Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinion
without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers. 1
Reason for this Report
Stichting de Groene Rekenkamer (The Green Accounting Office) intends to publish an independent and
critical profile of the Wereld Natuur Fonds. The Wereld Natuur Fonds is the Dutch office of the World
Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which was established as the World Wildlife Fund in October 1961. WNF
was established on August 10 1962 2 and is currently celebrating its 50 th anniversary.
As a rule the Wereld Natuur Fonds receives a VIP treatment, no questions asked. Nevertheless, it has
long outgrown its original purpose of protecting threatened underdogs 3 , 4 . The world's largest green
organization gained more and more clout over the past 50 years, both in terms of national and
international policies. In the Netherlands, WNF currently has 900,000 supporters, which is more than its
largest private conservationist organization Natuurmonumenten. It is also 45 times as many as in 1972.
Both WNF and the global organization WWF see their income grow. The global revenues have doubled
since the year 2000 to about half a billion euro per year, where the share of governmental contributions
and developing aid to what started out as a private fund has been growing rapidly. In the accounting
year 2009/2010 WNF acquired a record amount of 64 million euro in funds and subsidies, where it
claimed to have spent 81 cents per euro on the conservation of nature. As the human-geographer
professor from Groningen University Pieter Lukkes put it:
'The Dutch Head Quarters in Zeist ooze power.' 5
At the same time, but little attention is paid to the political side of WWF. This year saw the 2 nd Earth
Summit in Rio de Janeiro, an environment summit in which WWF is an important participant. 'RIO' is
short for 'Reshaping the International Order' 6 . The Club of Rome was a crucial influence on the global
environmental agenda with its apocalyptic report 'Limits to Growth', issued in 1971. The Club of Rome
was founded by WWF Director and Italian industrialist Aurelio Peccei. WWF and the Club of Rome have
been propagating similar political-economic views for 40 years. A global elite was to sideline the
democratic order, invoking an unofficial state of emergency. This view was reiterated during the
celebration of the 50 th anniversary of WNF on the SS Rotterdam.
1 UN Declaration of Human Rights, article 19
2 On this date the organization was called Stichting Natuur Noodfonds; the name Wereld Natuur Fonds was
adopted in 1965, when it Head Quarters were located in Zeist, the Netherlands.
3 Chapin, M. 2004, A challenge to conservationists. WorldWatch Magazine (November-December): 17-31
4 Dowie, M. 2005, Conservation refugees: When protecting nature means kicking people out. Orion Online.
November-December: 1-12, see also the website www.conservationregugees.org.
5 Lukkes, P. (2012) Klimaatbeleid in Eurocrisistijd, page 189. Uitgeverij U2PI BV
6 Tinbergen, J editor RIO, Reshaping the International Order, a report to the Club of Rome, Dutton publishers 325
p. The third report commissioned by the Club of Rome. In it, a club of 20 experts, led by economist Jan Tinbergen,
presented its ideas for reshaping global economy. Its first report was the successful 'Limits to Growth', which has a
much apocalyptic outlook and was less science-based. It did sell a lot better.
What remains unclear is:
a. whether the influence exerted by WWF and WNF serve the common good, or whether it serves
a political agenda of a minority/elite
b. how funds meant for 'the conservation of nature' as donated to WWF/WNF are spent and what
the net effect of this expenditure is
c. the scientific value of communications issued by WWF via its own media and own channels to
journalists, the general public and politicians.
Using multiple sources, desk research and verifiable evidence, this report intends to paint a more
realistic picture of WNF and WWF. For this, it uses the articles of association as submitted with the
Chamber of Commerce, annuals accounts, scientific literature, interviews with conservationists in the
field, scholars, field trips, audits of the articles of association, annual accounts and (internal) publications
of WNF/WWF, and communications of WWF staff via international institutes such as the climate report
of the IPCC climate panel of the United Nations, a panel which' interests are closely knit with the
interests of WWF. 7
Summary and Conclusion: 'Two Faces'
Although within WWF/WNF organizations there are different (political) factions, some general findings
can be substantiated that show how WNF is an organization with two faces. Thus there can be
reasonable doubt as to whether WNF/WNF do in fact serve the common good. Our research leads us to
conclude that among policy makers and journalists a more realistic perception of WWF and the Dutch
WNF is warranted.
a. WWF is also a political organization. As a fundraising multinational, WWF prides itself in its
collaboration with multinational companies, claiming to be politically neutral. At the same time,
WWF expresses an anti-Western, anti-humanist, anti-democratic and anti-economic worldview,
which is shared via platforms of such organizations as the Club of Rome. By invoking a global
state of emergency it intends to sideline regular decision-making, for the benefit of a global elite
and an inversion of all values. There is no room for an audit of feasibility and empirical validity of
the propagated ideas. WNF is also not politically neutral with its 'Green Voter's Guide',
developed in collaboration with Stichting Natuur en Milieu. In the field, WWF regularly teams up
with partners who hold the same political objectives.
b. No external independent audit of expenditure and ROI of WNF and WWF. WNF is spending
ten's of percents more on marketing than 'conservation' as claimed, unless one uses a very
loose definition of 'nature conservation' and 'nature education'. In terms of staffing - measured
in FTEs - 67% goes to marketing and finance, 26% to conservation. WNF achieves its claim that
7 Two thirds of the 44 chapters of the IPCC climate report were written by authors of the 'Climate Witness
Scientific Advisory Panel' set up by WWF. The famous Himalaya glacier error ('melted in 2035') was taken over
from WWF campaign literature.
'81% of every euro is spent on conservation purposes' by factoring in staffing costs (including
communications), as well as the project overhead costs of foreign projects and (advertising)
campaigns. A recalculation of the financial deployment exclusive of marketing costs shows that
about 54% of the revenues are spent on nature (projects) in actual natural environments. WNF
owns millions in external assets in real estate firm Baduin in Hattem. Where WNF spinoffs like
Stichting Pan Parks are concerned, no annual accounts are available from the Chamber of
c. Existing scientific literature comprising an audit of the efficacy of money spent by WWF is
highly critical in this respect. Ecologists with hands-on experience in local nature conservation
are highly critical of the efficacy of WWF as a conservationist organization. For its 'flagship
species' like the giant panda, polar bear, black rhino and the Siberian tiger, no positive
correlation can be found between the presence of WWF and population trends, while negative
correlations can be found. This inefficacy has been known for decades via internal reports. WWF
has a turbulent past and via projects like Lock, people were executed summarily in the name of
the prevention of poaching. Furthermore, local populations have been driven off their land
more than once in the name of international nature conservation.
This first part of the report deals with the organization profile of WWF and WNF, elements a and b: its
network, origin, finances, economic and social vision. Part 2 s deals with element c.
1. Fifty Years of Doom Scenarios
The global World Wide Fund for Nature was established in 1961 as the World Wildlife Fund 9 , by
conservationists Peter Scott and Julian Huxley, together with Prince Philip and Prince Bernhard. Scott
was Vice President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
(IUCN), which was established by Huxley in 1948. Scott designed the logo with the giant panda. WWF
was to act as a fund raising organization for the IUCN. For this purpose it shared it Swiss Head Quarters
in Morges, until the 1001, a Nature Trust of Prince Bernhard, gave WWF its own new offices in Gland in
the nineteen seventies.
The first fund raising campaign started with a special 'shock edition' of the Daily Mirror in October 1961.
A 'threatened' black rhino mother with its young was depicted across the pages as a donation animal.
The title was 'Doomed' -- to disappear from the face of the earth due to man's neglect folly and greed.'
The campaign yielded 50,000 sterling. Until 1973, however, WWF would not spend a penny on the
protection of the black rhino. 10
The World Wide Government Fund (2). Does WWF Protect Nature? A study into the efficacy of the Wereld
Natuur Fonds in nature conservation. De Groene Rekenkamer 2012/©www. rypkezeilmaker.nl
9 In 1986 the name was changed into World Wide Fund for Nature.
10 This was discovered by investigative journalist Kevin Dowling, and it was published in his documentary 'Ten
Pence in the Panda' broadcast via The Cook Report in 1990: in 1990 Dutch broadsheet de Volkskrant paid attention
to Dowling's work. See also part 2: The World Wide Fund for Administration. Does WWF Protect Nature?
The apocalyptic tone of voice has not changed over these 50 years. This type of marketing is said to
work best. 11 The fact that it does, is shown by the exponential increase in influence, income and number
of supporters over the past 20 years. This marketing angle was broadened from just almost extinct, large
(African) mammals to include the entire planet.
'WWF is a business like any other - except what is being marketed is a concept rather than a product.' 12
In its bi-annual campaigns WWF used the scientifically highly controversial Ecological Footprint 13 , Global
ecological demise is imminent as a result of Western overconsumption. The claim is that the world is
using 50% more than the planet can provide. Or so says WNF in de Volkskrant in May 2012. According to
Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP), WWF stated that the world was living 25% over a 'biological capacity' in
2008 14 . Thus, the over-demanding differs per campaign.
Ecological model countries are war-torn Afghanistan, dirt poor Bangladesh, and the Palestinian
territories where unemployment is rife. These countries hold top-5 positions, while recycling champion
the Netherlands rank in the bottom 9 countries, despite the world's cleanest chemical industry in the
Rotterdam-Antwerp axis. It finds itself in the company of the champions in wind energy, Denmark and
Germany. Apparently the many millions Germany has invested in 'sustainability' have not helped to rise
in the ecological esteem of WWF.
2. A cast-iron brand that gets a VIP treatment in the media
WNF is a strong brand, which many a famous actress and supermodel gladly lend their body and face
to 15 . Of the 106 FTE in the 2009-10 accounting year 45 FTE is guarding the brand through marketing. As a
rule WWF is handled with kid gloves by the press, thanks to this cast-iron marketing strategy. The angle
taken by journalists where nature and the environment are concerned plays a role here too. Philosopher
and journalist Jaffe Vink already referred to the docility of de Volkskrant where Greenpeace is
concerned by stating: 'most journalists write from an environmentalist perspective.' German journalist
Michael Miersch confirms this same inclination in the German-speaking region. 16
Jeanrenaud, S. (2002) People Orientated Approaches in Global Conservation, Is the leopard changing its spots?'
MED 2002, page 37 refers to the efficacy of 'disaster stories' in fund raising.
12 Jeanrenaud, S. (2002) People Orientated Approaches in Global Conservation, Is the leopard changing its spots?'
MED 2002. Jeanrenaud was WWF marketing director in the UK in 1979.
13 A list of scientific criticism regarding the footprint and its uselessness in policy-making is given by Van den Bergh,
J., Grazi, F. (2010) On the policy relevance of the ecological footprint. Environ. Science & Technology. 2010, 44,
4843-4844, and Fiala, N. (2008) Measuring sustainability, why the ecological footprint is bad economics and bad
environmental science, in Ecological Economics 67, 519-525.
14 Djoghlaf, A., Dodd, F. (2010). 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Insecurity. A planet in peril.' The preface reads:
'According to WWF we are operating at 25 per cent above the biological capacity to support life.' This - the
reference to the Living Planet Report 2008 - is half of what WNF said in de Volkskrant.
15 Supermodel Doutzen Kroes shows her naked body in the 'pass on planet Earth' campaign. In the commercial she
is overgrown by weeds.
16 Michael Miersch, FDP conference Dresden, June 30 2012
Dutch broadsheets like Trouw publish pages of items with just WNF as a source, in which they show
their warm feelings for WNF's vision, and in which they fail to include any repartee or interpretation of
facts. 17 Stories about the good deed of WNF brought as if they were news should rather be looked on as
advertorials, WNF being the sole consulted source. The story 'Van Panda naar Palmolie' (from panda to
palmoil) in NRC Handelsblad of May 18 2012 - written by media consultant Stef Verhoeven - describes
50 years of good deeds. It is clearly written in support of WNF, which is the only source consulted for
Verhoeven's article. In its conclusion the article lashes out to the government, which is said not to do
enough for WNF (or its agenda).
The apocalyptic message from the bi-annual Living Planet Report - a reproach at the Western consumer
- was published full-page as a news item in national media on May 15 and 16 2012. 18 The message
echoes the message of October 13 2010 after the Living Planet Report 2010 campaign, which was
covered in the science section of NRC Handelsblad at the time. Here too, the same WWF employee,
Natasja Oerlemans of WNF was the sole source.
3. WWF: doubling of income since 2007 and 17 per cent of subsidies
WWF raises funds for its international headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, and WWF network in more
than 100 countries. In addition, WWF has 4 associate organizations in countries without a WWF office,
e.g. the Fundacion Vida Sylvestre Argentina. The international WWF has two budgets, one for WWF
International and one for WWF Network.
In 2007 WWF Network received 508 million euro, in 2008 this was 447 million. About half of the
revenues of this network consist of private donations. In addition, WWF International received
approximately 100 million euro in both years (in Swiss francs: 160 to 170 million) 19 . This is double the
amount of the year 2000, when the total income was 360 million USD.
In 2008, WWF International spent 143,265 million of the 174,542 Swiss francs in revenues on
Conservation Program, Conservation Policy and Awareness (82%). This 'awareness' concerning the
influencing of opinions regarding WWF themes. In 2008, WWF Network spent 17 per cent on direct fund
raising, 12 per cent on 'awareness', 9 per cent on administrative costs, which leaves about 64 per cent
to be spent on conservation objectives (conservation program, policy, traffic, education).
After the first environment conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 the private WWF became more and
more intertwined with governments, both in financial terms and with respect to the agenda. This can be
concluded from the growing WWF capital from US AID (100 million USD so far), Europe Aid, and other
verder-rsquo.dhtml , Natuurbehoud, we moeten verder' - a 3-page article by Hans Marijnissen in which WNF
director and lawyer Johan van de Gronden presents his views. The article received fierce criticism from the Dutch
conservation sector, because WNF hardly invested in Dutch nature, among other reasons.
18 Volkskrant May 16, 'Nederland drukt een te grote voet op aarde'. Author Michael Persson copies the message
from WWF Living Planet Report 2012. WWF used two indices, i.e. the Ecological Footprint and an index of its own
design for Consumer Pressure. In its leading article of May 15 2012, De Telegraaf reported a similar message and
the same WWF employee, Natasja Oerlemans, is quoted as the 'expert'.
19 WWF Annual Review 2008.
funds, which in 2008 accounted for 17 per cent of the revenues. The motivation behind the shift from
strict conservation to developing aid has become obvious since the nineteen nineties, from the
organization's 'people participation marketing' objectives. The 'sustainable development' agenda first
set in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this.
WWF is a governmental extension by no small measure. The Brussels lobbying office of WWF -
European Policy Office - receives an annual 'operating grant' of 600,000 euro from the European
Commission 20 for lobbying with the EC, while benefiting financially from millions of euros in annual
project funds from Europe Aid 21 . In 2010, the rent of WWF office in Kinshasa, capital of Congo, was paid
by the European Commission.
Klaus Rudischhauser, one of the executive directors of Europe Aid, does not wish to explain why the
relatively rich WWF gets this financial preferential treatment. According to Rudischhauser, in chronology
of answers 22 :
a. 'office rent in Brussels is very costly for NGOs'(....)
b. 'it is a tradition of the European Commission to sponsor civil society'
c. 'WWF shares many of our objectives'
d. 'WWF is supposed to account for every euro spent'
4. World Nature Cash: the funding machine
WNF was established on August 10 1962 by Prince Bernhard, and was then called Stichting Natuur
Fonds. The Prince became President of the fund. In 1965 the name was changed to Wereld Natuur
Fonds. WNF grew to become the main green charity in the Netherlands, with 900,000 paying supporters
(20,000 in 1972). WNF was set up as a fund raising organization for WWF/IUCN projects. According to its
articles of associations deposited with the Chamber of Commerce in 1998, the WMF was obliged to
transfer any incoming funds to Switzerland 'as soon as possible'. After payment to Switzerland,
administration costs and staffing, a maximum of one third of the income could be spent on Dutch
conservation projects, with a minimum of one fifth. The latter stipulation was dropped in the new
articles of association, in which 'the development of nature' was added as an objective.
In 2009/10, WNF received 64 million euro in funds and subsidies. In 2011, this dropped to 62.4 million.
The organization spent about 9 million euro on campaigns and campaign materials. A comparison: the
largest political party in the Netherlands, WD, had a campaigning budget of 2.5 million in 2010. A
qualification: with its annual income WNF could buy one Chelsea footballer (Fernando Torres cost 60
million euro). Director Johan van de Gronden earned over 150,000 euro. He dedicates himself to nature
14 months per year. The marketing director receives roughly the same salary.
EU Beneficiaries, http://ec.europa.eu/beneficiaries/fts/index en. htm states an amount of 3,142 million euro in
EU project grants for WWF Indonesia and a number of research institutes for REDD+. In 2010, WWF took part in
project to a value of 17 million euro in European developing and innovation funds.
21 The term Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) thus becomes somewhat ironic. Non-Elected Organization
seems to be a better term, considering the financial injections from governments.
22 Interview 1100- June 5 2012 in Brussels.
In 2009/10 the total payment made to the international WWF work was 39,537 million euro. National
offices are partly free to choose their own conservation projects to fund: in 2009/10 the amount spent
on 'international projects' was 33,685 million euro, i.e. 52.6% of the total revenues.
According to the articles of association WNF is 100 per cent owner of the real estate firm Baduin BV,
which in 2011 had 1,893 million in assets. In addition, WNF owned 794,000 in assets in the wound up
real estate firm Custodia Agris (a bequest). The annual accounts do not show what happened to these
The largest sponsor organizations - in addition to private sponsors and bequests - are the
Postcodeloterij - which gives WNF a blank check for 10 to 20 million euro every year (in 2011 this was
15.5 million euro) and the government. Particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsors WNF
annually with 3 million euro in grants, even though this amount has been decreasing. An evaluation
report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 23 reports a joint grant of 15.1 million euro for WNF, IUCN and
Milieudefensie, in addition of a 3.2 million grant to WWF in Gland. Furthermore, WNF received project
funds from the European Union, e.g. half a million euro for a climate project in Ghana, in 2010. WNF-
boardmembers as Gerard Persoon also work for Dutch government in certifying tropical wood, and
recently helped to block non FSC-wood from other certifiers from the Dutch market.
WNF annually contributes about 400,000 euro to projects in the Netherlands, mostly campaigns. This
share for Dutch project has been increasing over the past 3 years, however. In the accounting year
2010/11 the budget for Dutch projects grew to 1.4 million euro. The 500,000 euro extra budget (of
900,000 in total) reserved for conservation in the Netherlands in 2010 was spent on the preparation of a
Stay Okay hostel in Munnikenland near Slot Loevestein, where WNF was supposed to sell its vision on
nature among youths. This project was cancelled due to the negative publicity about the expropriation
of farm land, as described in Brabants Dagblad. WNF contribution to Dutch conservation (campaign)
projects -after deduction of failed projects - thus amounted to .6 per cent of its revenues. The 'Eviction
for Conservation' theme is current in the Netherlands too, albeit in a mild form, where farmers are
bought out against their will from their lands with public money, stimulated by WNF-campaigning.
5. Is 81 cent per euro spent actually spent on 'conservation of nature'?
The emphasis on fund raising within WNF becomes clear from its work force: in 2010, 45 of the 106 FTE
go to marketing and 26 FTE to Finance. For 'conservation' WFN has reserved 28 FTE. Marketing and
Finance require 67% of staffing efforts. Still, on page 59 of its 2009/10 Annual Review, it claims that 81
cent of every euro is spent on the conservation of nature. This claim is substantiated by only deducting
direct fund raising (13.6%) and administration/management costs (5.02%). WNF refers to all other
activities as ' conservation', including overhead on international projects, and the salaries of
Campaigns and advertising promoting the highly specific WNF view and WNF initiatives are called
'conservation'. Campaigns leaning on the 'bad science' 24 behind the Ecological Footprint are
'conservation', as they are ' educational'. Approaching children on the Jaap van Eden ice-skating rink in
polar bear suits, in 2008, as part of the 'Usbeer in nood'(Polar Bear in Peril) campaign, therefore is
considered to be conservation too. In part 2, chapter 4, it will appear that the use of the polar bear as a
climate mascot is highly ironic. 25 Does this imply that the plastic-wrapped WNF greeting cards KLM
Cityhopper serves with their lunches also count as 'conservation of nature'?
New calculation of contribution to conservation, based on a stricter definition of conservation: 53.6%
per euro is spent on conservation
With a 20% correction (23% overhead is the standard in international conservation 26 ) there is a 31.6
million euro budget left for international products. This is 49.4% of the total WNF revenues. A
recalculation - leaving our campaigns, magazines and the salaries of communications personnel, but
including conservation - results in the following estimate as to the percentage of the total revenues
spent on nature projects:
Conservation projects in the Netherland .6 per cent
Conservation personnel 3.56 per cent 27
Nature projects abroad with 20% overhead correction 49.4 per cent
Total 53.6 (per) cent per euro in revenue
An MED report mentions a 55% share of all spendings on 'conservation' by WWF in 2008 28 .
The dubious ROI of conservation programs and the absence of a link between priority areas and the
scope of expenditure are discussed separately in part II 29 . This problem is not limited to just WWF. 30
6. Global elite working for WWF
Without exception, all former Presidents of the international WWF, were members of royal families and
captains of industry of British-Dutch multinationals, or Commonwealth firms. Prince Bernhard was the
Fiala, N. (2008) Measuring sustainability, why the ecological footprint is bad economics and bad environmental
science, in Ecological Economics 67, 519-525
25 Zeilmaker R. (2012) The World Wide Government Fund (2). Does WWF Protect Nature? A study into the efficacy
of the Wereld Natuur Fonds in nature conservation. De Groene Rekenkamer, p. 19.
26 Scholfield K, Borckington, D. (2009) Non-Governmental Organizations and African Wildlife Conservation, a
preliminary analysis, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester: the calculated 23% is the mean
overhead of all green NGOs active In Africa
"Calculation: 28 FTE 'conservation'/106 total FTE x 9.3 million euro in salaries in 209/10, means 3.56% of 64
28 'The breakdown of WWF International's expenditure is: (% of total WWF expenditure): conservation 39%;
conservation policy 3%; education .2%, awareness raising 1%; fundraising .6%, administration .2%. In total,
therefore, conservation expenditure amounts to 55% '(WWF, Annual Report 2000).
29 The World Wide Government Fund (2). Does WWF Protect Nature? A study into the efficacy of the Wereld
Natuur Fonds in nature conservation. De Groene Rekenkamer 2012/©www. rypkezeilmaker.nl
30 See also: Ferraro, P.J. and Pattanayak, S.K. (2006) 'Money for nothing? A call for empirical evaluation of
biodiversity conservation investments'. Plos Biology, 4, 482-488
first WWF President, from 1961 to 1976. John Hugo Loudon, top ranking official with Shell, was WWF
President from 1976 to 1981. Loudon was a personal friend of Bernhard and was knighted both by the
British and by the Dutch royal families. Loudon succeeded Bernhard in 1976, when the latter became
discredited by the Lockheed scandal. Bernhard transferred money received from Lockheed to WWF in
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was President of WWF from 1981 to 1996 and still is emeritus
president. Many WWF offices in European countries were established by royal families, e.g. the one in
Denmark (Prince Hendrik, who is President of WWF Denmark), and Juan Carlos of Spain (founder and
President of WWF Spain and an honorary member of WWF). Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was
guest of honor at the 50 th anniversary celebrations in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on May 7 2012. The
'Panda Ball', a fundraiser gala for WWF in Singapore in 2009, was opened by the Dutch princess
In the early nineteen seventies, Prince Bernhard founded the 1001 a Nature Trust: nobility, captains of
industry and dignitaries from his own network could become a member of the Trust on invitation and
against payment of 10,000 USD. The 1001 is still a loyal sponsor of the global WWF 31 -- and its lobbies on
behalf of WWF in the top echelons. The 1001 had controversial people among its members, e.g. the
dictator of former Zaire - now Congo - Mobutu. Other members included representatives of companies
like Unilever, Shell, and families like the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers (a family whose fortune was made
in oil) and the diamond moguls of De Beers.
Former PM of the Netherlands Ruud Lubbers was WWF President from 2000 to 2002. Lubbers is or was
a member of 1001 as well. The current President of WWF is the former Minister for the Environment of
Ecuador, Yolanda Kakabadse. She succeeded the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Emeka
Anyaoku. People in top positions within WWF have often held top positions at UNEP of IUCN. Kakabadse
was Chair of IUCN. Current UNEP member Achim Steiner used to lead the IUCN.
At a national level, WNF is good at enlisting influential people too. WNF Supervisor Teresa Fogelberg,
Director of Climate and Industry at the former Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the
Environment, led the Dutch climate delegation in international climate agreements. She contributed to
the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and the resulting emissions trading. Former Minister of the
Environment Jacqueline Cramer was Supervisor at WNF as well. Currently, Unilever Board Member
Anthony Burgmans is Supervisor. Sustainability guru Jan Paul van Soest also used to be WNF Supervisor.
WNF and WWF are often found to be less radical than organizations such as Greenpeace. Still, WNF
regularly teams up with Greenpeace, Milieudefensie and more orthodox organizations in campaigns,
fundraising and marketing. Greenpeace and WNF together received a campaign budget for an 'ocean
campaign' from the Postcodeloterij. And WNF financed the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior in the
In its 2008 annual report WWF expresses its gratitude to '1001 a Nature Trust' for its financial aid and lobbying
7. Strong effort for WWF themes
WWF is the largest green NGO in the world, and the main vehicle for globalization of the environmental
agenda. Especially in former British African colonies WWF is by far the largest Conservation NGO, being
twice as large as the 2 nd (American) party. 32 WWF directors initiated many institutes that influence
global policy, e.g. the Club of Rome.
One of the most influential advocates of a global environment agenda, Maurice Strong, is co-founder of
WWF Canada. He was a member of 1001 a Nature Trust, and he used to be President of the UN
Conference on Human Environment, the Stockholm Conference in 1972. In 1972, Strong became the
first Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). This was established in
Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to his environmental initiatives and the UN positions that he held, Strong also
was the Secretary of the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Here, Agenda 21 was laid down,
the 'sustainable' development agenda for the 21 st century, which featured the redistribution of Western
wealth towards the developing countries.
During the RIO conference, the C0 2 -focused climate agreements UNFCCC were ratified. These led to the
1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that was aggressively promoted by WWF in the media 33 . In 2005,
the Protocol led to the European system for emissions trading - actively encouraged by WWF - and the
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). WWF developed its own hallmark for climate projects: the Gold
WWF staff was active during all UN climate conferences that resulted from the 1992 Earth Summit. It
contributed to the design of all IPCC climate reports. One third of the authors of the summaries of the
UN climate panel IPCC report in 2007, as prepared for policymakers and journalists, were involved in
WWF 34 . Principle 1 named in the preamble 35 to the global Convention on Biological Diversity established
during the first Earth Summit is: 'People living in Harmony with Nature'. These are the exact same words
used in the fundraising slogan of WWF USA.
WNF personnel members such as Donald Pols were among the Dutch national delegation that prepared
UN climate agreements. WNF - together with Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth - also helped draw
up ecological criteria for the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. In its limitations are imposed on
fishery and other users of the North Sea. 36
Scholfield K, Borckington, D. (2009) Non-Governmental Organizations and African Wildlife Conservation, a
preliminary analysis, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester
33 The Climate gate emails show how WWF pushed scientists to lend their names to petitions and how it used the
media to put pressure on Japan to sign a more drastic agreement in Japan.
34 Vahrenholt, F., Luning, S. (2012)Die Kalte Sonne, warum die Klimatkatastrophe nicht stattfindet,
Hoffman&Campe Verlag/F. Vahrenholt, May 11 European Energy Review
36 http://kennisonline.deltares.nl/txmpub/files/? file id=13767 No fishery organizations were involved in the
limitation advice for fishery in the name of a specific vision on nature - as developed by environmental
organization. Just environmental campaign groups. The ecological criteria in the EU Marine Strategy Framework
8. WWF, a friend of the business community
WWF International prides itself in its deals with Coca Cola, IKEA, Siemens, the banking industry, (palm oil
investors) HSBC, and many other multinationals. Likewise, WNF boasts its deals and consultations with
the business community, including Rabobank. Any lover of nature onboard a KLM Cityhopper is served a
sandwich with a plastic-wrapped greeting card of animal pictures, courtesy of WNF. On the card they ask
the passenger to sponsor WNF: in other words, more consumption is needed to help WWF in its
campaigns against, such as the Living Planet Report.
To explain its role in the Davos World Economic Forum, WWF describes the involvement of
multinationals as follows 37 :
'We found out that the most significant threat to our 35 priority places were 15 commodities:
sugarcane, whitefish, fish meal, shrimp trawling, paper & pulp, salmon farming, palm oil, tuna fisheries,
beef, soy, sawn wood, biofuels, diary and cotton.
We also found out that only 100 companies controlled 25% of the trade of those 15 commodities. The
reason why 25% of trade is so important, is because it results in 40-50% of producers. Producers that
will compete to sell into those better markets. By working with those 100 companies, we can leverage
almost half of global production of those 15 commodities and address those threats.'
WWF's motivation can thus be described as economic realism. The strategy is criticized regularly by
'orthodox' environmentalists. Collaboration with governments and multinationals led to problems
concerning the human rights of the population in areas that are under WWF policy rule. Problems like
oppression and evictions of indigenous populations by WWF partners, in the name of conservation, has
already been criticized in a report by the World Watch Institute in 2004 38 .The article in Der Spiegel of
May 2012 called 'WWF helps industry more than the environment' also stated that this strategy of WWF
can undermine its objectives.
The main criticism expressed by German filmmaker Wilfried Huismann in his documentary 'Der Pakt mit
dem Panda' concerns the collaboration between WWF and a consortium of governments and large
multinationals, e.g. the palm oil industry in Indonesia, and Monsanto in South America. These are said to
do more harm than good for the rain forest, wildlife like the Orang Utang and the local population. The
film was nominated for 2 awards at the Film Festival of Monte Carlo of June 16 2012. Observations
made by Huismann about how the local population is driven off in the name of 'conservation' and
'sustainability' have been uttered by others before him, e.g. Mark Dowie 39 . Conservationanrefugees.com
Directive were drawn up with Janette Worm, and are characterized by the holistic 'don't touch' philosophy,
typically adopted by campaign organizations, which disregards evolutionary, dynamic characteristics
38 Chapin, M. 2004. A challenge to conservationists. WorldWatch Magazine (November-December):17-31.
39 Dowie, M. 2005. Conservation Refugees: When protecting nature means kicking people out. Orion Online.
is dedicated to this issue. Local critics/colleagues of Huismann think he is too high-principled in the stand
he takes against multinationals and genetic modification 40 .
WWF and palm oil
With Unilever, WWF is developing a hallmark for palm oil in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
(RSPO). This hallmark would imply that 4% of the palm oil productions will be certified. Collaboration
with multinationals gives them a place round the table and may enforce desired behavior. The
Netherlands are Europe's largest importer of palm oil via the port of Rotterdam. WWF/WNF's long-time
partner Unilever uses palm oil in bulk.
Indonesia dominates the global palm oil market with somewhere between 40 and 50% of the supply.
Der Spiegel recently published an article about the collaboration of WWF and palm oil businesses, under
the title: 'WWF helps Industry more than Environment'. 41 . WWF partners are said to violate human
rights, while logging continues. Research of forestry policy scientist Krystof Obydzinski of Wageningen
University demonstrates that the Indonesian government has millions of hectares of logging concessions
on paper. Rain forest will have to make way for the oil palm.
9. WWF, an enemy of businesses
While taking pride in its collaboration with and financial aid received from multinationals, WWF
marketing often communicates strong anti-industrial and anti-economic sentiments. A study of the MED,
for instance, claims that WWF policies - paid for by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 -
demonstrates that attitude towards businesses diverge quite substantially within WWF. 42 The message
in this next WWF press release shows strong anti-industrial sentiments. 43
'Brussels June 16 2009: In all of Europe the green economy offers jobs to more than 3 million people.
Which is a lot more than the polluting industry. Thanks to our Knowledge Economy, green jobs grow on
trees, here in Belgium The Green Jobs for Europe reports shows that at the moment at least 3.4 million
jobs across Europe are directly related to renewable energy, sustainable transport and energy efficiency.
This is more than the current 2,8 jobs in polluting industries like mining, electricity, gas, cement, iron
In this quote, pollution is only used to refer to C0 2 emission of fossil energy. Ironically, the construction,
realization and operation of wind mill parks as propagated by WWF and WNF require - highly
polluting 44 - mining to gain the rare earth metals such as neodymium for the turbines (1 ton per
Michael Miersch: 'One of the things I like about WWF is that they do in fact collaborate with companies.
Huismann appears to think that WWF ought to be like Greenpeace.'
41 http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/wwf-helps-industry-more-than-environment-a-835712.html . Quote:
'In Sumatra, members of a tribal group reported how troops hired by WWF partner Wilmar had destroyed houses,
because they had stood in the way of unfettered palm oil production.'
42 Jeanrenaud, S. (2002) People Orientated Approaches in Global Conservation, Is the leopard changing its spots?'
MED 2002, p. 68, via http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/9134IIED.pdf
43 http://groeneiobs.be/uploads/Documenten/am 2009 3 groene jobs rapport wwf.pdf
Chemist Prof. Koen Binnemans of Catholic University Leuven, in EOS Magazine, June 2011. Each turbine requires
rare earth. And 99% of this rare earth metals for turbines comes from 1 mine in China, on the border with
turbine), natural gas for back-up power in case the wind does not blow, and cement and steel for the
structures. Moreover, 'green' jobs - translated by WWF exclusively as work related to the energy sector
-can never lead to substantial economic growth, according to the Irish-Dutch economist Richard Tol,
'Climate policy does not contribute to economic growth or a growth in number of jobs. Quite the
contrary: about 2% of the Gross European Product is spent on energy. If the energy sector grows 10%,
the economy grows .2%. A small sector is not able to boost economic growth, especially not in terms of
employment. About 1% of the workforce works in the energy sector. If the number of energy jobs
doubles, unemployment will drop only mildly.'
According to WWF, the Palestinian Territories, where unemployment is rife, is the ecological model
country of 2012. 45 Anyone who ever visited the Westbank and assessed it's environmental status could
not only have serious questionmarks on the economics, but also the ecological relevance of this
outcome. Furthermore, WWF celebrates Earth Hour once a year via a blackout, when everyone is asked
to off their electric lights. As such Earth Hour can be considered as an anti-modern vision on man and
wealth. As it stands, economic growth is directly proportional to (fossil) energy consumption. Failing
market-worthy technology (without government support) and given the current global share of wind
and solar energy of between 1 and 3 per cent, advocating radical reductions in C0 2 emissions - by
campaign groups like WWF and Greenpeace - means advocating radical economic downsizing.
During the celebrations of WNF's 50 th anniversary on the SS Rotterdam on May 7 2012, Sheila Murray of
the Club of Rome Canada claimed that the West should look at Native Americans for a model. 'When
European immigrants came to America, they considered the land to be empty. But this was the result of
the Native Americans not having an impact on nature. This is why their footprint was so small.' Similarly,
the knowledge of Inuit is considered superior or that of the Westerner. Such ecologistic, anti-industrial
and anti-technological images have been commonplace with the green movement for decades, as is an
anti-humanist and any-Judeo-Christian view on how to interact with nature 4647 . The nature-friendliness
Mongolia, the rest comes from Canada. Binnemans about the environmental conditions at these mines: 'In 1995 I
visited processing installations for rare earth in Baotou. What I saw there reminded me of the harrowing conditions
in 19 th -century European mining areas. Hardly any investments have been made in new technology since.'
45 Volkskrant May 16 2012. 'The Netherlands leave to large a footprint on the planet.' In the index reported in
WWF Living Planet Report 2012 on which the article was based, the Palestinian Territories top this list.
46 Lynn White Jr. 's pamphlet 'One the Historical Roots of our ecological crisis' in Science, in 1967, turns round on
Christian and humanist ideas of mankind, the anthropocentrism that was said to have caused a separation from
nature, and that was considered to be the single most important cause of the ecological crisis. Former director of
the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (comparable to American EPA), Klaas van Egmond, recently defended this
view in Reformatorisch Dagblad. Staff of this planning agency for the living environment is involved in the Club of
Rome, the Club of Rome initiative NASA and the Club of Rome spinoff the Balaton Group (which includes Bert de
Vries. Matthis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network is also a member.)
47 Klaas van Egmond, former director of the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving used the same rhetoric against ' The
West' in Reformatorisch Dagblad in August 2011, setting it off against primitive people who live in harmony with
of primitive people was rejected 40 years ago by paleoecologic research. The forest in 'empty' America
has been burnt down by Native Americans countless times, as has been demonstrated by
paleoecological research, for instance by John Birks. The idea of 'people living in harmony with nature'
as propagated by WWF probably never existed in reality.
10. 'Forest disappears for your wealth.'
In 50 years of WWF marketing communications, 'The West' has always been the bad guy in terms of the
environment. Earlier WWF campaigns, e.g. the one in May 1966 in Geneva 49 , referred to commercial
logging as the main contributing factor to an 'extinction crisis', which would case 50,000 species to
become extinct annually. The campaign appealed to anti-corporative and anti-modern sentiments,
which are in flat contradiction with certain very basic facts:
a. According to FAO figures, the forest area in Western countries has grown significantly over the
past 50 years; in Europe it grew with 8 million hectare, from 1950 to 1999 50 . In the Netherland
too, the total available acres of forest grew from 1 to 11 per cent in a single century.
b. Not a single species known in the United States, Canada and Europe has become extinct due to
In a reaction to the campaign, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, wrote to then WWF President
Prince Philip 51 :
'Myself and many colleagues who specialize in forest science are distressed at recent statements made
by WWF regarding the environmental impact of forestry. These statements indicate a break with WWF's
strong tradition of basing their policies on science and reason. To the best of our knowledge, not a single
species has become extinct in North America due to forestry.'
Prince Philip answered:
'I quite agree that this third statement (logging being the main cause of extinction) is certainly
contentious and the points that you make are all good ones. All I can say is that he was probably
thinking of tropical forests when he made the comment.'
Still, in 1997 WWF USA continued to claim that 75% of North American forests were threatened. None
of the '50,000 species' were registered by science: they were computer extrapolations of species that
might have disappeared in the event of a possible land conversion. Over the past 5 years many more
new species have been discovered and were newly described by science than have become extinct
See e.g. the work of Paul Martin (1973) about the Pleistocene extinctions megafauna in North America after the
arrival of 'Native Americans', 'The Discovery of America', Science vol. 179 No. 4077, pp. 969-74
49 To mark the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forestry
50 Nabuurs, G.J. et al. 2003 Temporal evolution of the European Forest Sector, carbon sink from 1950/1999 Global
Change Biology, 9 152/160
51 Personal website ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore www.greenspirit.com in 'Environmentalism for the 21 st century'.
Moore left Greenpeace in 1986 and became a consultant for logging companies, among others.
/were written off in 200 years' time . Over the past century, 38 animal species became extinct, mostly
subspecies of relatively common species like the puma and the ibex. Science described over 1.5 million
species, half of which are insects.
11. Does Western wealth threaten animal species?
It is difficult to relate campaigns against Western wealth to the main objectives of the WWF, the
protection of animal species. Especially in wealthy countries deforestation has been turned around, and
the loss of species has been stopped through investments in nature. Wealthy Western countries have
the strictest nature and environmental laws. In the Netherlands the number of plant and animal species
has been growing since the nineteen seventies, both in an absolute and in a relative sense 53 .
International agreements between polar bear countries Norway, Denmark (Greenland), Canada and
Russia, reached in 1972 concerning hunting limitations, made the number of polar bears grow from
10,000 to 25,000 in 2006 54 . Particularly in Canada - which has the largest population of polar bears - the
population of polar bears grew spectacularly.
Poverty and the struggle to attain more wealth are what make nature suffer the most. Modern studies
show that most of deforestation takes place in Africa for (small-scale) fuel (62%) and for houses, and
that commercial logging plays a much smaller role (26%) 55 . Wetlands International states in the State of
the World's Waterbirds 2010 that especially bird populations in North America, Australia and Europe are
thriving thanks to investments made in the protection of nature, while 56
'Waterbird population status is least favorable in Africa, South America and particularly Asia, where 62%
of known populations are decreasing or extinct and only 10% are increasing.'
Seventy-five per cent of all extinctions described in the IUCN Red List took place in tropical islands,
mostly through the introduction of exotic species. The most iconic victim is the dodo of Mauritius, which
perished because of 17 th -century Dutch trade missions of VOC, and the pigs and rats they brought along
with them. The MSG, for instance, has a list of 100 'worst invaders', including the brown tree snake, that
hitched a ride on a plane and killed the endemic bird population on Guam in the Pacific 57
2nd-complete.pdf Chapman, A.D. (2009) Numbers of living species in Australia and the Rest of the World, Report
for the Australian Biological Resources Study. Quote: 'Since the first edition of the Numbers of Living Species and
the World' was produced in 206, we've discovered 48 reptiles, about 200 new fish species and 1,184 flowering
plants.' Over the past 200 years 36 species of marsupials became extinct, due to the introduction of cats, rats and
53 Haes de, H.U., W. de Snoo, G. Prins (2009) Her gaat weer beter met de natuur in Nederland, in Landschap, pp
54 See the Polar Bear Specialist Group
55 Dr. Martin Herold, Wagingen University personal communication
57 Facts about the relationship between modernity and biodiversity can be found in the SWNM Biodiversiteitwijzer
2012 via www.swnm.nl
12. The roads of the global environment agenda lead to the Club of Rome and WWF
WWF regularly points at apocalyptic projections from computer scenarios that are said to require a
radical change in behavior. One of the influential suppliers of such doom projections is the Club of Rome
(which has close ties with WWF). When the first Club of Rome report was issued in 19981 - Limits to
Growth - 6 of the directors held that same position in WWF, including Aurelio Pecceide, who was
President of the Club of Rome 58 . The Club of Rome was a major influence on the globalization of the
In the Netherlands, 900,000 copies of the Dutch pocket edition of the Limits to Growth report were sold,
among a population of 13 million. The Club of Rome initiated the Balaton Group. This think tank has its
annual meeting at Lake Balaton in Hungary. It members include Bert de Vries of the Dutch National
Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Matthis Wackenagel, who developed the
The Club of Rome used projections from the world economic model MIT World3 by Jay Forrester as
described in 'World Dynamics'. The first results were presented in Moscow and Rio de Janeiro. The
collapse of the world was imminent without a radical change in behavior enforced by a global authority.
The demise could only be averted with a 0-growth economy. The Club of Rome has been campaigning
for a radical redistribution of Western wealth for 40 years. For this it invokes a state of emergency and a
'defining moment in history'. This principle of radical redistribution is also found in Agenda 21, the
'sustainable' development agenda of the United Nations. Agenda 21 was drawn up during the first
conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
13. 'A deeply religious respect not to use fossil fuel.'
In its 40-year campaign, the Club has aborted old projection, as they did not come true, and traded them
for new ones. During the 50 th anniversary celebrations of WNF on May 7 2012, attended by Queen
Beatrix, for instance 59 . Norwegian economist J0rgen Randers, member of the Club of Rome, illustrated
his risk most feared for 2052, a projected global warming of 2.5 degrees. It is why a 'deeply religious
respect' must be instilled in young people 'for not using fossil fuel.'
Randers' recommendations in order to avert the disaster in 2052 are an echo of the Club of Rome, 40
years ago: the growth of the global population had to be stopped via emancipation ("empowerment of
women"). According to Randers, growth of the population had to be curbed in the wealthy part of the
world in particular 60 because of the large ecological footprint of Westerners. 'My daughter's footprint is
10 times the size of that of an Indian child,' Randers explains.
Peccei is also founder of the Institute for Applied System Analysis -NASA, in Salzburg, which develops computer
projections for global environmental trends. Climate scientist Pavel Kabat is its current director, and well-known
'alarmist' researchers such as the Mr. Acid Rain who featured a lot in the media in the nineteen eighties, Leen
Hordijk, are among the former Research Directors. Many authors of the IPCC report worked for NASA.
59 The presentation can be found at http://www.houstonforesight.or/?0=1777
60 This in spite of the theory of demographic transition, which teaches that growth of population is curbed the
higher the levels of development and wealth
Also, current democracies are said not to be capable of developing the long-term global policies Randers
considers to be necessary. An influential global authority must therefore correct the endemic short-term
thinking of democracies. WWF President Yolande Kakabadse commended Randers' presentation and
thanked the Club of Rome for 'helping to draw up an agenda together with WWF'. She claims that 2052
sounds so distant, while in El Salvador already suffer the consequences of climate change, with the
excessive amount of rain that falls there. 'For them, the end of the world will be tomorrow, could things
get any worse?'
14. Time is standing still: at WWF it has been five to midnight for the past 40 years
What visions for the future have organizations like the Club of Rome and WWF conjured up over the
past 40 years? Let's start with 1971. The message of WWF director Aurelio Peccei in the report to the
Club of Rome points to a decisive moment in history 61 - as do all apocalyptic movements:
'Man has reached a point where he needs to find a new way for his cultural evolution.'
In economic developments and developments in nature, the Club of Rome saw 'symptoms' of a general
disease that it claimed was caused by overcharging the planet:
'Given these circumstances people everywhere are increasingly confronted with a series of
unmanageable and had-to-grasp problems - disturbance of the environment, a crisis of habits... inflation
and other monetary and economic disruptions to name a few.'
Twenty years onwards it is five to midnight once again. The preamble to Agenda 21 on the Rio Earth
Summit of the United Nations in 1992 - presided by WWF Nestor Maurice Strong (secretary general)
literally echoes the Club of Rome:
'Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities
between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing
deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.'
And 16 years onwards, in the introduction to the 2008 WWF annual review, it is five to midnight yet
again. Unless coordinated global action averts our demise, that is:
'It is now generally accepted that the world is in the grip of a downward spiral that only concerted action
can reverse. The ecological impact of humanity's footprint has caused the Earth's natural biodiversity to
deteriorate - reducing, in turn, its capacity to absorb further excesses.'
15. Empiric disproof of doom scenarios has no impact on WWF's global agenda
WWF claims it uses 'the best available science'. Yet from the onset the scientific validity of the
projections of the Club was fiercely criticized by serious economists like William Nordhaus of Yale
Meadows, D. (1971) Limits to Growth, report of the Club of Rome, Dutch translation Grenzen aan de Groei,
Uitgeverij net Spectrum NV, p 13 in the preface by Alexander Kinf, Saburo Okito (WWF Japan), Aurelio Peccei
(WWF International), Eduard Petel, Hugo Thieman (scientific director WWF Italy), Carrol Wilson
University who denounced the Malthusian character of the Club of Rome - as did many other
economists. In his study 'World Dynamics, measuring without data' published in the Economic Journal,
Nordhaus dryly concluded 63 :
'Whereas most scientists would require empirical validation of either the assumptions or the predictions
of the model before declaring its truth content, Forrester is apparently content with subjective
plausibility. The discrepancy in scientific standards of acceptability is probably what lies behind the
dispute about the value of World Dynamics.'
None of the predicted collapses or 'depleting' of natural resources has come true 64 . The past 20 years,
half a billion of people were drawn up from below the poverty line 65 , and the Green Revolution is now
graining ground in Africa 66 .And yet, the message of limits to (exponential) growth in an (ecologically)
limited system continues to appeal to an elite 67 . In Rotterdam, at the anniversary celebrations of WNF,
the projections of the Club of Rome were characterized as 'correct in terms of content, albeit poorly
timed'. The irony can't escape the wise.
16. Governing global elite has to by-pass democracy
With the Club of Rome and on the WNF anniversary celebrations on the SS Rotterdam, the vision of
economists like William Ophuls reverberated. In his 2011 book 'Plato's Revenge' he advocated a global
elite government, which was to defuse an ecologic crisis. Ophuls and members of the Club of Rome
already brought this message in 1974 68 . The Club of Rome already advocated a world authority back in
2971. From Randers' presentation and statements of the WWF elite a love of the democratic process
and individual freedom can hardly be gleaned. Randers acknowledges the difficulty of this anti-
In doing so, Randers reflects the statements of philosophers/author John Gray: most environmentalists
are not prepared to accept the anti-humanist implications that follow from an ecologistic world view.
Critical self-analysis of the travel behavior of global protectors of the environment shows that their
In his 1798 essay 'On the Principle of Population' clergyman Thomas Malthus described the exponential growth
of the population, while means of production grew along in a linear manner. This could not but lead to a collapse
and massive death, until the point where the population was balanced with said means, e.g. available arable land
and food production. Malthus inspired Charles Darwin for his theory of evolution. The Club or Rome refers to
Malthus as well, and Marx.
63 The Economic Journal, Vol. 83, No. 332. (Dec, 1973), pp. 1156-1183
64 For a detailed discussion and disproof of doom scenarios and related Malthusians like Paul Ehrlich, see Lomborg,
B. (2001) The Skeptical Environmentalist. Measuring the real state of the world, 515 pp., Cambridge University
65 European Report on Development 2011/12. 'Confronting Scarcity: Managing water, energy and land for inclusive
and sustainable growth', p. 28, cites a 2010 OECD report
66 See www.agra-alliance.org
67 Prof. Dr. Rudy Rabbinge, production ecologist and participant in the Agra Alliance in Africa states that doom
scenarios in the spirit of Malthus are especially successful round a turn of a century
68 Ophuls, W., essay 'Lockes Paradigm Lost' in Meadows, D. et al (1974) Beyond Growth - Essays on alternative
futures, financed by the Ford Foundation. Ecologist Eugene Odium, author of the ecologic standard work
'Fundamentals of Ecology' advocates that half of all the land is reserved for undisturbed nature.
many visits to international conferences cause at least twice the C0 2 emission of the average
American 69 . Apparently the intended governing world elite does not have a 'deeply religious respect for
not using fossil fuel'.
Nevertheless the Club of Rome hopes that by invoking a state of emergency - as it did 40 years ago -
should lead to a world authority that eclipses national democracies (one of Randers' four main
recommendations). The West needs to consume less, and give up wealth to achieve 'a balanced world.'
A 'balanced planet' and 'green growth' and 'sustainable development' as propagated by UNEP 70 , and the
WWF in its marketing communications may sound business-friendly and humanitarian, yet the single
most important driving force behind this global elite is climate policy, which is unilaterally interpreted as
C0 2 policy via energy. As the Irish-Dutch economist Richard Tol wrote in NRC Handelsblad of June 20
2012, the consequences of global elitist policies work counterproductively:
'Notions like "sustainable development" and "green growth" may appear broad, yet in practice they are
just another name for climate policy. The local environmental problems in Asia, South America and
Africa are not relevant in the eyes of the global environment elite. The environment-consciousness of the
rich countries actually stems from the locality. Not in a single person in Europe would want to go back to
the days of the dead rivers. Yet people in Asia are asked to ignore the suffocating air and to focus their
attention on an abstract problem in the future.'
The failing of global environmental conferences show that the strategy propagated by WWF and the
Club of Rome has reached its sell-by date. According to the British philosopher Roger Scruton their
'predilection for salvation' via global bureaucracy has to be traded for a local solution. Scruton
advocates the strengthening of the national state and groups that have strong links to their local
environment in solving nature-related and environmental issues 71 .
Conclusion Part 1
There is not enough social debate about how the general interest is served by the elimination of the
democratic process, the formation of conglomerates with preferred businesses and the promotion of
economic stagnation. The 'charity' WWF supports this agenda, and its (former) directors are among its
architects. There ought to be a debate about the question whether the Public Benefit Institution (ANBI)
status of WNF can be justified.
Helen E. Fox, Peter Kareiva, Brian Silliman, Jessica Hitt, David A. Lytle, Benjamin S. Halpern, Christine V. Hawkes,
Joshua Lawler, Maile Neel, Julian D. Olden, Martin A. Schlaepfer, Katherine Smith and Heather Tallis (2009) Why do
we fly? Ecologists' sins of emission. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7:294-296. Thirteen ecologists
calculate their own C0 2 emission and find a double C0 2 footprint compared with the American population due to
their frequent conference visits, for which they travel by air.
70 Djoghlaf, A., Dodd, F. (2010). 'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Insecurity. A planet in peril.' Ahmed Djoghlaf,
executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity of UNEP warns - contrary to the observable truth of
data about species described by science - that the '6 th mass extinction' is imminent, and that he therefore wants
to create 'a planet in balance' by promoting radical changes in behavior of the world's population.
71 Scruton, A. (2012) Groene Filosofie, Verstandig nadenken over onze planeet, Nieuw Amsterdam, 320 pp. Chapter
3, De Hang naar Verlossing.
A publication of:
Stichting de Groene Rekenkamer www.groenerekenkamer.nl, 2012
Text, research and cover:
©Rypke Zeilmaker Nature/Science writer: www.rypkezeilmaker.nl, 2012
The content of this document may only be copied with a reference, and it may not be used for
commercial purposes. Multiplication is only allowed with the express written consent of the author.
A study regarding the effectiveness of
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and it's Dutch partner WNF
We also found that conservation BINGOs (Big NGO's) spend a great deal of energy chasing money, which fosters an
approach to conservation that changes according to donor agendas' 1
Which nature is protected by the WWF?
In part 1 of the report 'World Wide Government Fund'we have treated World Wide Fund for Nature's
organization of both WWF-network and WWF-International: it's influence, it's finance and its economical
vision. Note that in The Netherlands WWF is known as WNF (Wereld Natuur Fonds), which is part of de
WWF-network and now celebrates it's 50 th anniversary.
This second part delves into the 'core business' with which WWF advertises, corresponding to part C of
the outline given in part 1 : International Nature Conservation'. WWF is known to boast the myriad
projects in which it invests and participates. Chief marketer Piet van Ierland jubilated in 2009 that WNF
participates in 1700 projects in 90 countries.
WWF projects are advertised with images of appealing animal species. The message always stresses the
critically 'endangered' status of a species, and then makes a dramatic appeal to it's potential donors: we
have to act now before it is too late. Top priority amongst WWF's advertised species are tiger, panda,
polar bear and whale. These animals — together with the black rhino- are called 'flag ship species', of
which a WWF says in a fighting spirit 2
From elephants to polar bears, we fight to secure a future for animals on the planet we all share. We helped bring back the
Amur tiger and Africa's black rhinos from the edge of extinction.
These animals still dominate the fundraising today. On the other hand WWF evolved from classical
species protection to savior of the whole planet, as emphasized by its Dutch slogan 'pass on the earth',
with supermodel Doutzen Kroes in campaigns. The WNF uses somewhat less aggressive wording than
WWF-USA. In its annual report 09/10 it presents itself as initiator and frontrunner:
Bj looking at smart solutions en by creating working pilot projects, nature conservancy will be copied by local people and
government. These projects are always run locally with involvement of local people and government. Only if they become
'owner' of WNF projects there will be a good chance of succes.
This report shines a light on the WWF and its expenditure at protecting 4 'flag ship species', based on
WWF documents, interviews with scientists and field workers, visits to protection projects, scientific
literature and findings of other investigative journalists.
Summary and conclusion: World Wildlife Farce
This report investigates the correctness of claims made by WWF about its contributions to nature
conservation and species protection. We find the following:
A. In public displays WWF overestimates its own contribution to species protection and frequently
boasts results achieved by others, as is the case with the (amur)tiger.
B. WWF is dishonest in her claims of 'saving' species. For decades now WWF fails to protect its
'flagship species' like black rhino and giant panda. The population of giant panda halved in the 32
years that WWF has been active in China, while WWF claimed it 'halted the decline'. The
population of black rhino was decimated by 90 percent. In its campaigns for the polar bear WWF
is wasting scarce resources and is misleading the public.
C. Contrary to it's own claims there is no link between scientific priorities and spending. On a yearly
basis less than 7 percent of WWF income is spent on conservationprojects in African nature,
while WWF is by far the biggest NGO in Africa. According to WWF's own criteria - and
measured in biodiversity loss- the tropics and especially Africa are considered as main priority
areas for threatened biodiversity where the relatively scarce conservation resources should be
spent the most.
1 Igoe, J. Sullivan, S. (2008) Problematizing Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation, An executive summary for the International
Institute for Environment and Development, 25 pp,
This confirms the image from part 1 3 that WWF have better marketing skills than skills in nature
conservation in the field with results in the longer term. In this part 4 chapters treat the 4 'flag ship
species' of WWF: giant panda, tiger and polar bear. What were WWF's proposals to protect them, how
well did it perform and how were results measured? Is WWF claiming more success than is attributable?
Chapter 5 is about the historic low success/cost ratio of the WWF: why is it that the money that WWF
earns hardly lands in places where the ecology is in need and why is it that its policies fail? All the factors
that contribute to this failure are presented as they are portrayed in the scientific literature. Many of these
factors are not limited to WWF only.
The conclusions drawn in this report justify a more realistic treatment by mass media of the WWF.
Currendy it enjoys a vip-treatment where WWF-campaigns are quoted as the only source of information
without ever questioning anything in them.
1. The black rhino
The black rhino is the animal that featured in the first WWF campaign ever in October 1961 in a
special Shock Edition of the Daily Mirror. 'Soon to be as dead as a dodo', an ad truthfully
declared. It was truthful in that truly one subspecies of black rhino did go extinct in 2010. In the
analysis below it appears that WWF's contribution to "saving" the rhino is doubtful, that its
campaigns in the past had criminal aspects and that internal auditing revealed the lack of
The rhino is a prehistoric mammal that is roaming the earth for 60 million years. Some subspecies
frequented Europe during the ice ages. Currently the Indian rhino, the white rhino and the black rhino
(Dkeros bicornis) have survived. The black rhino which has 4 subspecies occupies a habitat ranging from
Kenia to South Africa, with the subspecies michaeli in Kenia. 4 How are they doing after 50 years of
protection by the WWF?
Wildlife Extra, says 5 :
'Africa 's black rhino population destroyed
Over the last sixty years, Africa's black rhino population plummeted by more than 90%. As recently as 1970, 60,000
black rhino roamed the continent. By 1993, uncontrolled poaching for rhino horn had reduced this to fewer than 2,300.
Today, through increased security efforts and active management within protected areas (including private and community-
owned lands), they have increased to just over 4,200 individuals. '
Wildlife Extra announces a project to the Tanzanian government with the Frankfurt Zoological Society
(with which WWF cooperated regularly) for relocation of 32 black rhino's to the Serengeti in May 2010.
The freed animals are descendants of animals that were captured in 1961 in Tsavo in Kenia (of the
subspecies michaeli), that were brought to South Africa (where originally the subspecies 'minor' roams). The
'saving from the brink of extinction' in the WWF definition means letting the population drop by 90
percent. What are the causes of this?
The Phillipson report destroys WWF
In 1989 the British consultant John Phillipson wrote a 252 page report as an audit for the WWF-
leadership. Not only about practices in Africa but also about its work in China with the giant panda. The
report ruled that WWF was failing to protect the species it advertises with. The report was leaked, thanks
to investigative journalist Kevin Dowling, and seriously jeopardized the fundraising for WWF in Great-
Britain 6 . WWF spent 350.000 British pounds creating a crisis communications team, that had to suppress
the negative publicity that ensued after Dowling's revelations. One of the revelations was that WWF did not
spend a penny on the black rhino until 1973, and this was the animal it advertised with in 1961.
3 Zeilmaker, R. (2012) 'World Wide Government Fund': Organizational Profile, Finances, Influence and Economic Vision of
Wereld Natuur Fonds and the World Wide Fund for Nature, 15p report by the De Groene Rekenkamer
4 Okita Ouma, B. (2004) Population performance of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) in six Kenyan rhino sanctuaries
6 Jeanrenaud, S. (2002) People Orientated approaches in Global Conservation, Is the leopard changing it's spots? MED 2002,
mentions the scandal around the airing of The Cook Report, and the exodus of British donors.
Many conservation projects failed or crumbled. One of WWF's protection policies was — like the
Tanzanian government does now — to translocate rhino's from 'unsafe' or overpopulated areas to
reservations without any rhino's and with fences and guards. Protected Areas. Then we have the
infamous project 917 for which 85 rhino's were translocated from Natal in South Africa to Mozambique.
All rhino's died. Another translocation was a shipment to the bird reservation Lake Nakuru, about which
the magazine of the African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group, part of the Species Specialist Groups
of IUCN, in 1990 writes:
"By October 1987, when the exercise ended, a total of 17 black rhinos had been translocated to LNNP, 15 of which came
from Solio Game Reserve, one male from Nairobi Park and another from Lewa Downs. "
Other translocations, after 1987, are rhino's from the Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe, that were shipped, as
was revealed later, to make way for a ranch for catde breeding, sponsored by IMF. The animals ended up
in zoos in the US and Australia, and in private reserves in Zimbabwe. Phillipsons judgement is about
various translocations and their use for nature conservation is devastating 7 :
'The logic behind the choice of Nakuru as a site for the release of black rhino's remains something of a mystery. About one-
third of the park is a lake, and another third is open grassland, quite unsuitable in the normal course of events as rhino
habitat. Nakuru was a daft place. What price pay walking safaris for birdwatchers now that there might be a rhino around
the next bush. The Park was, after all, created for the birds. '
The mortality rate with the translocation of rhino's in Kenia has been 5 percent on average since 1984.
Animals were dying of stress and narcotics, says Pachyderm, the journal of the Elephant and Rhino
Kenian rhino trader gets highest WWF decoration
Poaching is surely the most important cause of the decline of the black rhino since the early 70's. The
WWF-leadership knows about this. Reports such as the report by the University of California at Berkeley 8 ,
see the arrival of automatic weapons like the AK 47, as the cause of the very strong rise in ivory trade in
the 70's, that hit both elephants and rhino's. In 1990 the journal Pachyderm of the African Elephant and
Rhino Specialist Group is clear that poaching is still the plague that is hurting the rhino, despite the trade
ban that was implemented by Cites (Convention on the International trade on Endangered Species) in
1987. Especially South Korea and China are said to be eager markets:
While habitat loss, fragmentation and encroachment are long-term concerns, the rhino poaching crisis and international
trading in rhino products are the most important unresolved threats jeopardising continuation of the 60-million year existence
of the Khinocerotidae family.
Natural parks repeatedly played a role as launching ground for various rebel groups, who used the ivory
trade and trade in rhino's to to finance their private wars. The involvement of Unita-terrorists in the ivory
trade is mentioned in 1990 in the magazine of the Elephant and Rhinospecialist Group in 1990 that was
partly funded by WWF. More alarming is that African government employees were themselves actively
trading rhino's. Kevin Dowling, the producer of the critical 1990 WWF-documentary 'Tenpence in the
Panda' (broadcast via 'The Cook Report'), discovered that anti-poaching teams, often hired by WWF
themselves were trading ivory, and also regional elites were involved 9 . It resulted in scenes that were truly
embarrassing for WWF. Rene Zwaap of the Groene Amsterdammer writes:
'Dowling also commemorates the fate of the Kenian hunter lan Parker, who had been hired by WNF -founder Peter Scott to
study Kenian poaching from Nairobi. Parker discovered that the Kenian president Jomo Kenyatta and his daughter Margaret
were deeply involved in the ivory- and rhino trade, together with people who made a name for themselves as conservationists.
7 Phillipson cited in EIR Executive Intelligence Review (1994) Special Offprint, 'The Coming fall of the House of Windsor'. On biz
36. The authors reveal a theory of the WWF- and the political strategic positioning of wilderness parks in Africa in the former
British colonies. US Aid was also financing conservation in Eastern Europe, in order to have a base of influence in the formerly
Russian powersphere. For Africa there is no second independent source to this theory. The quotations however are authentic
and the Phillipson-report is also quoted by Dowling, Zwaap and Jeanreynaud.
8 Raffalovich, A. (2004) 'White Gold, the ivory trade ban'.
9 http://www.qroene.nl/1997/45/het-wereld-natuur-leqer , after critical reports about groups like WWF and Greenpeace Rene
Zwaap personally testified to the author in 2009 that critical reporting has no effect on public opinion.
Parker wrote a report, but a couple of hours before he was to hand this to the WNV -leadership, he was kidnapped. Three
days long he was severely beaten, while his wife was being threatened to be killed if she were to disclose the report '
And so it came about that President Kenyatta in 1974 received, the Order of the Golden Ark, an Order
installed in 1971, from the hands of prince Bernhard, who at that time was WWF president. He got it for
his role in saving the rhino. It happened at the very moment that Parker was beaten by accomplices of
Kenyatta. No sooner than in Dowling's documentary, 17 years later, Parkers report was finally revealed.
Ian Douglas Hamilton's epitaph to prince Bernhard in 2004 sounds slightly euphemistic when he writes 10 :
While the Ark may at times have been given to political leaders who did not deserve it, in general it became one of
conservation's highest awards, creating a sense of international recognition for services to nature. '
Famous recipients of the Order of the Golden Ark are the British moviemaker David Attenborouh and
Richard Leakey in Kenia. Leakey is the son of the Leakey-couple who unearthed the first remnants of
primitive hominoids like Homo habilis.
Prins Bernhards Project Lock and human rights violations
John Hanks, WWF program director Africa, in 1987 wrote 'WWF's continental strategy for the
conservation of Rhino'. He supported Prince Bernhard with the WWF financed anti-poaching project
Lock, in South Africa. The project was corrupted by interests of the British secret service. During an
operation with British SAS-troopers and the secret service dozens of 'poachers' were shot from
helicopters that were paid for by WWF.
This disputed project Lock was first reported on by the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper of 24 August 1991
in the article 'De Lange Arm van het Wereldnatuurfonds' (WWF's long arm). Many so called 'poachers'
were found to be members of the ANC, as appears in reports of the South African secret service, who
were monitoring nature reserves across the border. At the same time civilians were utterly deprived of
their rights. Dowling says to Rene Zwaap of the Groene Amsterdammer in 1997 in 'Het
Wereldnatuurleger' (the World Nature Army):
I discovered that in those wilderness reserves there was systematic suppression. People have no rights there, their traditional
way of making a living is forbidden. They cannot even trample a flower witout being in danger of getting shot. At the same
time these reserves were launching grounds and training camps for all kinds of mercenaries. '
Dowling also mentions the Unita terrorists. Wat was the result for nature in fighting these 'poachers'? The
newspaper Volkskrant quotes employees of the project Lock that cost 1 million British pounds: 'there is
not a shred of evidence that the project even saven a single rhino'. It is quite an understatement when
Hamilton says about Prince Bernhard, the financier of Project Lock: 'PB, as he was affectionately called, took
part in many bold initiatives that have succeeded in creating more space for nature and better protection for the environment. '
The feudal and colonial character of nature conservation in Africa was again scrutinized in 2009 by social
scientists of the University of Manchester in 'Eviction for Conservation' 11 that described the practice of
violent evictions of local peoples from areas where wildlife and wildlife-tourism were set to be the main
source of income. In East Africa they found 60 instances of evictions from 'protected areas'.
Rhino trade might reopen
Since 1990 the black rhino population has stabilized at the current level which is 20 times lower than when
WWF was first collecting money using the image of the black rhino. An international ban on ivory trade,
set up by Cites (Convention on the International trade on Endangered Species) in 1987, has greatly helped
the stabilisation. Cites regulates the international trade in endangered species and was founded in 1 975 in
Washington. There are major doubts however about the effectiveness of the ban on the trade in ivory
from rhino's. Simply because demand has not waned 12 . For elephants the Cites ban from 1989 - that was
implemented in 1990 — did have a strong positive effect.
II Brockington, D. Igoe, J. (2009) Eviction for conservation, a global overview', p 444: On the other hand, there is evidence that
large conservation NGOs have played an active role in the creation of protected areas that exclude local people (a direct role of
large conservation NGOs in evictions and other forms of displacement would be much more difficult to prove).
12 http://are. berkelev.edu/courses/EEP131/fall2006/NotableStudent05/The%20lvory%20Trade%20BanAmintaR.pdf
In 2008 China pleaded for and obtained a free pass on ivory from Cites. According to the Environmental
Investigation Agency this results in a rebound of poaching. The South African newspaper the Mercury
confirms 13 in their article of April 5th 2012 that as of 2008 poaching for rhino is on the rise. The South
African government is against the plan of some conservationists to release the ban and bring piles of
horns of deceased rhino's to market. The idea was that this would undermine the black market. Poachers
from Mozambique would be able to kill 600 rhino's this year in the South African National Parks. Many
guards are in strike now. Summarizing: sheer luck, social demographics and political developments
influence the wellbeing of the rhino more than the WW.
2. Giant Panda
Submit the keyword 'panda' in Google and the number 1 in the search ranking is WWF. The
giant panda is the WWF logo, designed by one of its founders - Peter Scott. This year WNF, the
Dutch branch of WWF, advertizes in nationwide media with the image of a juvenile giant panda
in a tree. The WNF sponsors van Chinese panda projects. From the information below it appears
that - in contrary to claims made by WWF of halting decline- the population halved since WWF
became active in China and the factors that threaten the panda habitat are unabated, with poverty
driven deforestation as the main culprit.
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is an evolutionary rarity, that evolved from a family of onmivores,
the bears, into a narrow food specialist. The total population resides in ten reservations and in mountain
forest areas the size of 29.000 square kilometer (a little smaller than The Netherlands) spread out over six
disconnected regions. The animal spends 55% of its time eating bamboo, 44% sleeping and 1% mating
and other necessities. During the ice ages 600.000 years ago achieved a vast expansion, all the way to
Birma and northern Vietnam.
One of the biggest giant panda reservations is at Wolong, were 10 percent of the population used to live.
The Wolong-reservation was set up in 1962 by the Chinese governement. It reached its current size of
2000 square kilometers in 1975. It was devastated in 2008 by an earthquake in Sichuan. Already before the
arrival of WWF in 1980 the Chinese government had erected 12 panda reservations. The Chinese Ministry
of Forestry in 1992 launched the Panda and Habitat Protection Project. This project is about improving
14 reservations and setting up another 14 reservations including corridors. This project ended in 2000.
WWF was working with the Chinese government to create the plan, says WWF-China.
WWF simulates effectiveness
Already in the 60's a combination of poaching, shrinking habitat by deforestation for burning wood by the
local population and a limited food supply appeared to do the panda in. Nature was not cooperating.
Bamboo experiences periodical massflowering of wild shoots, resulting in drastic declines in food supply
for panda's. Half a century later and after 30 years of panda projects by WWF, the main threats were
advertised by WWF as unabated. Says Fan Zhyong of WWF-China (former employee of the Chinese
Ministry of Forestry) in the Telegraph in 2009 that the panda would go extinct within 2 tot 3 generations,
'unless we act now' 14 . The article claims presenting WWF as the authority:
Wild panda numbers dropped to as low as 1,000 in the late 1970s, but a painstaking conservation programme has
increased numbers to around 1,600 today scattered across six mountain ranges in southwestern China.
The statement that in the 70's there were only 1 000 panda's left, is made again and again in campaigns that
mean to prove the effectiveness of the work of WWF. WWF-Australia claims 15 :
'Reasons to celebrate
Over the centuries giant pandas have been killed and their habitat plundered, until by the mid 1970s, there may have been as
few as 1,000 left in the wild. Armed with this fact, WWF supporters stood up and said that they would not let the panda go.
13 http://www.iol.co.za/mercury/sa-not-readv-to-lift-rhino-horn-trade-ban-1 .1270655#.T-sfFnUYff8
qenerations.html 1 7 August 2009
http://www.wwf.org.au/our work/wwf global work/wwf global flagship species/giant pandas/reasons to celebrate/ , one can
calculate here how many planets are neccessary to have a good life
So, with their backing, in 1980 WWF began its first projects in China. Since then, we have been able to stem
the decline in panda numbers and put in place long-term solutions for pandas in the wild. '
70's panda population halved on paper for pressure on government
Even on the WW China website we stumble across the number 1000 16 . The number '1000 panda's
remaining in the wild' is however not from the 70's, but from the end of the 90's according to a Chinese-
German study in the Journal of Forestry Research in 2001 17 . The study was executed, 21 years after WWF
became active in China. The population of the giant panda in the 70's - before the involvement of the
WWF began - was still at 2000 according to this study. They write:
'From 1974 to 1978, leaded by Hu Jingchu (Sichuan Province), Wu Jiajan (Shaanxi Province), and Zhang Fuyong
(Ganshu Province), about 3 000 Chinese scientists conducted a census of the remaining wild pandas. It was estimated
that about 2000 animals were alive (Xiongmao Jiayuan). To urge the conservation process of this
treasure animal, the official figure was only announced about 1000 (Hu 1985; O'Brein, 1987). But
unfortunately the official figure had become fact one decade later. '
A panda count from 1987-1989 found 1180 animals. This count served as a basis of a management plan of
WWF and the Chinese government. Zhao Hua and Denig write further, that since 1994 another 10
percent of wild panda's disappeared. In 2004 the Chinese government estimated that the number at 1580 18 .
The Dutch WNF maintains this number in 2012 in its campaigns 19 . The Chinese WWF says in 2012 that
there are now only 1000 panda's remaining in the wild. 20 After 32 years of Panda protection by WWF the
population halved or decreased with around 400: depending on which population estimate one takes.
The Last Panda
WWF began its Panda protection program in 1980 on invitation by the Chinese government. That first
project ran till 1992. Wildlife Conservation International also participated in the project. The nature
researcher and adventurer George B. Schaller worked for WWF in the Wolong reserve. Schaller wrote his
experiences down in 'The Last Panda' 21 . Schaller worked in the Wolong reserve from 1980 on. He
describes the failure of the project, which ran afoul because of contradictory expectations from Chinese
and western staff. From its Swiss headquarters WWF wanted to push its own agenda in China, without
considering the Chinese diplomatic culture. A lot of money from Gland never arrived in Wolong.
The WWF and Schaller mainly wanted to chart the ecology of the Panda in the wild. The data from this
study would be used for effective Panda Protection, a standard strategy for green NGO's from western
countries. In the time that the WWF spent 2 million the numbers kept dropping. The Phillipson report in
1989 agrees with Schaller's findings. John Phillipson concludes after spending some 4,5 million Swiss
Francs in 8 WWF panda projects that this investment was utterly futile and a disgrace to WWF's donors.
A commentary in 1994 by Stephen O Brien in Nature puts Schaller in perspective. According to him the
new management plan from 1989 is an improvement 22 . In 1994 the required 64 million in funding had not
yet been available.
Breeding Panda's for zoos
Between the time the Chinese government started its breeding programs in 1963 until 2000 it withdrew
260 panda's from the wild. During WWF's involvement the Chinese withdrew 153 Panda's from the wild
for breeding stations set up by the Chinese near Wolong and Chengdu. Only a third of the animals bred
whilst of the Panda baby's 60 percent died within a month. Schaller writes about hilarious situations, like
when the Chinese taught a Panda to eat a human diet. Later this tamed 'wild panda' came to the base
camp begging for food. At the moment 200 giant panda's are living in zoos, says the zoo of Adelaide
Australia, that itself also owns a panda. There are said to live 116 panda's in the two Chinese breeding
16 http://www.wwfchina.org/enqlish/pandacentral/htm/wwf at work/panda survev/q&a.htm
17 Li Zhao-hua and Manfred Denich (2001 ) Journal of Forestry Research Volume 1 2, Number 1 , 59-62
18 Third National Survey on the Giant Panda and Its Habitat, State Council of China. 2004
19 http://www.ranqerclub.nl/nl/actie/in de klas/aanvraqen lespakket.cfm , teaching material from 2004 says that there are no
more than 1 000 left http://assets.wnf.nl/downloads/dieren in de klas reuzenpandas.pdf
20 http://www.wwfchina.org/english/sub loca.php?loca=28&sub=90
21 Schaller, G.B. (1993. 'The Last Panda'. University of Chicago Press
22 . O'Brien, S, Wenshi, P. Zhi, L..(1994) 'Panda's People and Policy'Nature vol. 369, 19 May 1994.
stations. One of the motivating factors to breed was the lucrative trade with zoos, as is reported by The
Guardian 23 :
'Captive pandas can generate revenue. The state forestry administration reportedly charges up to f 1m a year for panda rentals
to wealthy overseas %oos. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland expects visitor numbers at Edinburgh %oo to double once
the pandas arrive. '
The Chinese have completely different views on conservation than the western WWF researchers, says
bear zoologist John Reid. He was between 1985 and 1988 with the Chinese panda project betrokken
namens Wildlife Conservation International. According to Reid the western adoration of Western
researchers for animals in the wild is at crossroads with the nature view of the Chinese: 24 'They believe
that animals in captivity are better of than in the wild'. During a period of bamboo blossoming and thus
food shortage for the panda's, the Chinese are saving Panda's from the wild, to never put them back in
nature. They turned into lucrative zoo panda's.
Reid writes in 1994 that the failure of the breeding proved the Chinese wrong. The breeding was very
troublesome throughout the 90's. The animals did not mate, females were unfertile due to stress, so ever
more Panda's from the wild were brought in. Around 2000 the Chinese managed to use behavioral studies
for stress reduction. In 2003 several researchers proclaimed breeding successes 25 . Reid acknowledges that
the Panda project failed because of the contradictory views held by the WWF and the Chinese. And
because of the fondness of Western NGO's for biological data, used in order to set up a 'management
The panda project emphasised biological information above all other data, and inadequately pursued acquisition of
socioeconomic and anthropological data. As is evident from this review, and more generally (McNeely 1989),
conservation is primarily a social problem because social forces driving harmful human
behaviours are at the root of virtually all conservation threats.
The trouble in China is just like the cause of deforestation in Afrika: logging for burning wood. It is
human poverty that hurts wild Panda's most, says Reid. The need for burning wood - due to a lack of
fossil fueled power plants — causes fragmentation of the forests where the panda lives.
Managers who are hired to stop poaching, often pity the poverty of the people and therefore refuse to
take harsh measures. This was the practice while at the same time the Chinese government introduced the
death penalty for poaching panda's 26 . With the economical liberalization in the 90's the trade in hides
again rose. Enforcement was failing, because most of the authorities are Han Chinese, who are not
respected as much by the Sichuan Chinese.
3. The tiger
From this chapter it is clear that WWF plays a role in tiger protection. WWF India is closely
involved with tiger projects and counts. It is clear that WWF is boasting the successes of other
peoples field work and anti-poaching activities. It inflates its own contribution in the protection
of a species, while in reality the Indian government had the initiative and covered most of the
The tiger (Pantera tigris) is is named after the river Tigris that floats through Iraq. This is one of the
countries where the tiger used to roam until persecution drove this mythical predator to its current
boundaries. The tiger shares this fate with the Indian elephant, that also used to roam in Iraq until 500BC.
Of the tiger and all its subspecies together — today less than 3200 are alive in the wild. The population in
zoos is bigger. Now the biggest part of the population lives in India, one of the 13 remaining tiger
countries. WWF says:
24 Reid, JG (1994) The focus and role of biological research in giant panda conservation, Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage.
9(1):23-33 Reid also names the '1000'-number in the70-s: panda population "accounting"
25 Swaisgood, R et al (2003) Application of Behavioral Knowledge to Conservation in the Giant Panda International Journal of
Comparative Psychology, 16(2). Swaisgood was employee of the San Diego zoo
26 This was changed into 20 years imprisonment in 1997. In 1996 2 people had been executed.
If we don't act now. . . there may be no wild tigers left when the next Year of the Tiger comes around in 2022.
And it proceeded to declare, how the money was going to be used for regional law enforcement, a task of
government: '£100 could pay for the training of one field officer in anti-poaching techniques and tiger
monitoring in Nepal.' The WW has launched tiger campaigns for 40 years now starting in 1972 with the
campaign 'Operation Tiger'. We are asked to help Leonardo di Caprio to help save the tigers via
'savetigersnow.org, and follow the tiger via a facebook page. WWF in 2010 participated in a Tiger-summit
in Russia with the 13 tiger countries. WWF further states:
'Interesting Fact: In the 1940s the Amur tiger was on the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 tigers remaining in the
wild. Thanks to vigorous anti-poaching and other conservation efforts by the Russians with support from many partners,
including WWF, the Amur tiger population recovered and has remained stable throughout the last decade'
'WWF boasts other peoples successes in tiger conservation'
Local conservationists paint a shrill picture of the WWF's 'conservation work' in the territory of the
Siberian tiger and -panther near Vladivostok. One of them is the Dutch economist Michiel Hotte, who for
20 years now spends his summers in this territory. He operates with his own foundation called Tigris.
Tigris is member of the Dutch Federatie Internationale Natuurbescherming. Thanks to donations from
the British Zoological Society Hotte set up anti-poaching teams and organized the fire guard against forest
fires (often lit on purpose).
When the Russian government in 2005 put an oil pipeline through the tiger and panther territory, WWF
purposely kept silent. Other nature organizations led the way in the protest, which resulted in banks
withdrawing their support. According to WWF resistance would trouble the Russian government. Hotte
An example of the meek and fearful positioning of WWF 27 is the campaign in 2005 against a Russian pipeline which
trajectory would definitively bring extinction of the tiger and panther. WWF Russia urged other WWF national offices to not
write about the pipline in their magazines and on their websites. WWF Russia was against international pressure by WWF
(as the director of WWF Russia told me personally). WWF Russia written about it, but only in Russian and only in
WWF did give a presentation for energy companies in which it was very critical about the pipeline, but it
intentionally did not present any written materials. That would have been 'too provocative' as the person
said that gave the presentation. Tater in the member magazine of WNF, WNF claimed that the oil pipeline had been
stopped thanks to the WWF! 'Bizar and frustrating to read that in hindsight', says Hotte. It could not be more
contrasting to the claim by WNF in its annual report:
'WNF is critical and does not run from confrontations if nature's interests require it. '
WWF often boasts with the successes of the good work of others — like Tigris. According to Hotte the
results that are claimed by WWF are frequently projects that have not been set up by WWF or ones that
WWF only participates in. The "stolen successes" are reported widely in the media as WWF-projects, in
presentations and on conferences and in contacts with sponsors.
An example is that WWF Russia invited the director of the biggest Dutch TV lottery together with Dutch WNF staff to a
Tigris antipoaching team in stead of a WWF-team. An it pretended all along that this was a WWF- team. '
Projects in which WWF had only a small share, are advertised as if WWF is the initiator and main party.
WWF often only enters the fray when projects are starting to become successful, but it then immediately
WWF's strongest piont, its easy access to the highest echelons of power, is also its weakness. The same tendency is seen in
its intercourse with multinationals, as described in part 1 . That is also what social scientists of Dartmouth College found with big
'green' NGO's.'ftey often entail a kind of self-censorship, since influencing powerful people entails 'speaking a language that
they understand', which can be a euphemism for not saying anything that might upset them on any level. '
tries to adopt the field work, leading to friction with the pioneer organisation. Hotte says: 'The Wildlife
Conservation Society from the USA started counting tigers with automatic cameras along trails. This was
the first camera count ever in Russia and it was very successful. In 2008 WWF suddenly also bought a
bunch of cameras, without first talking to WCS about cooperation, and without having the skill and
expertise necessary to use the cameras effectively. Of course WCS was irritated about this.'
Tigers in India mostly saved by the government
The biggest tiger population is in India. In 2011 according to new counts of the Indian gevornment and
the Wilflife Institute of India, 1706 tigers were alive in India. Disregarding the mangrove reservation
Sundarbans the number is 1636. This would be an increase of 16 percent compared to the last count in
2007. 28 It is a little less than the 1800 that was counted around 1970. In the corridors between the
reservations 12 percent less tigers were found. WWF India is significantly involved with population counts
and the charting of bottlenecks related to infrastructure projects 29 . They do this jointly with NGO's like
the Wildlife Trust, Aaranyak and governement institutes like the Wildlife Institute of India.
It was Indira Ghandi in 1970, who set up a tiger task force for this national Indian symbol. Before that
year hunting the tiger was a popular sport of the gentry, who came to shoot tiger upon invitation by the
It is ironic that Prince Philip — who succeeded Price Bernard in 1976 as WWF president — was himself still
hunting tiger together with Queen Elisabeth II back in 1961, the year the WWF was founded 3031 .
The Indian government banned hunting and trade in 1970. The WNF claims that this happened because
Prince Bernhard advocated it. Indian field studies counted 1800 remaining animals in India in 1970. The
tiger was set to go extinct 'before the turn of the century', without intervention. WWF provided a million
dollars for a protection program. 32 The Tiger Taskforce in 1973 led to the Project Tiger, that started in
Corbett National Park and is still running.
Hotte makes no secret of the fact that WWF is very bad at field work. Table 1 shows the differences
between WWF and Phoenix, which are especially remarkable in the last two columns.
India now has a National Tiger Conservation Authority 33 of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
This installed 39 tiger reservations, with a size of roughly 40,000 square kilometers (a little bigger than the
Netherlands). Regarding the slight rebound of the tiger, versus earlier years, it is unlikely that the tiger will
vanish by 2022. The dramatic claim in various media: 'before 2022 the tiger will go extinct' in the latest
WWF campaign looks like an echo of the 70's, 80's and '90's. It is the standard slogan of all WWF fund
raising. The Indian ministry of environment says about its tiger work:
'Given the biotic pressure, many predicted the tiger would be extinct by the turn of the century. Our work has proved the
doomsajers wrong. '
There is some criticism however regarding the accuracy of the counts. K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife
Conservation Society in 2003 already mentions the notorious inaccuracy of the population counts, that are
based on foot prints. In 1966 Indian scientists developed this foot print consensus. 34 During a two week
period thousands of forestry workers go into the reservations to count tiger prints.
28 Y.V.Jhala, Q.Qureshi, R.Gopal, and P.R.Sinha (Eds.) (2011). Status of the Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India, 2010.
National Tiger Conservation Authority, Govt, oflndia, New Delhi, and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. TR 2011/003 pp-302.
29 Vattakavan, J. 2010. Fragmentation threat in the Kanha-Pench corridor: Implications of the
Gondia-Jabalpur Railway Line on corridor connectivity and tiger dispersal. WWF-lndia.
30 http://www.africahunting.com/huntinq-pictures-videos/showphoto. php?photo=5096&title=queen-elizabeth-ii-and-prince-philip-
on-tiger-hunt-in-india-1 961 &cat=537
WWF-Sain founder King Juan Carlos recently was shooting elephants in Botswana and he has been frequently spotted bear
hunting in Rumenia. Prince Bernhard was also a passionate hunter.
32 Montfort, G. (1973) Saving the Tiger, Oryx 12 : pp 109-112
33 See National Tiger Conservation Authority http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/NTCA-booklet.pdf
34 Ullas Karanth, K. et al (2003) Science deficiency in tiger conservation: the monitoring of tiger populations in India, Animal
Conservation 6, 141-146
Tabel 1: Comparison of results of "Inspection Tiger" anti-poaching teams sponsored by WWF and
Phoenix , bron: Michiel Hotte Stichting Tigris.
\ J 1" f \+ f \ f * f \ \ c
c) Protected area
d) Amur tiger
a) fire arms
b) tiger / leopard
c) wood m3
d) traps / snares
ft Q C
ecology funds in
* not 4-year, but 2-year average (2000 and 2001)
WWF claims a big contribution to the tiger conservation. It claims a pioneering role via 'Operation Tiger',
the campaign that was launched in. In reality it was the Indian government who set up the works in 1970
and who executed Project Tiger which is still running. Also the Indian government carried most of the
cost. Research of tiger populations was already ongoing before WWF's arrival. Next to the WWF many
other organizations are involved with tiger conservation, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, who
do much more biological research. In the mean time the threats have not changed much 35 .
The Indian government identifies human conflict, poaching and habitat fragmentation as biggest threats.
The unbridled economical growth would require more and more land, which might be reflected by decline
of the tiger in corridor areas. WWF in 201 suddenly saw different threats 36 . In mangrove areas the tiger
was said to be threatened by a theoretical projection of sea level rise due to C02. In 2070 the sea would
swallow the tiger territory. Those stories are probably more effective for fundraising than for conservation.
4. The polar bear
The poster animal related to C02- driven global warming is the polar bear, the flagship species of
WWF. After the visit by Al Gore to The Netherlands in 2006, WNF, together with the Dutch
Rabobank, published full-page advertisements in national media. WNF announced through
these advertisements that construction of large scale wind farms in the North Sea —funded by
government- could save the polar bear. This can be deemed as a nonsense strategy. A one year
ban on polar bear huntingtourism in Nunavut, bears the same result as 500 years of climate
policy though treaties as the Kyoto Protocol and billions of euro's of public money. If the link
between, climate policy, windenergy, sea ice and polar bears works as WWF advertises.
Judging from a marketing point of view no animal has been deployed so effectively as the polar bear
(Ursus Maritimus) on a caved in ice floe. This picture was also used by sustainability manager Willem
Lageweg at the Sustainability Congress in Eindhoven in 2009. From a biological point of view however
this picture is common every spring, when the bears scour the edges of the pack ice searching for seals
((Phoca hispida and Erignatus barbatus). It is suggested that the bear on the ice floe is at the verge of
drowning. However, the Latin name Ursus maritimus litterally meaning 'sea bear', suggests the bear's
adaptation to life at sea. It is capable of swimming 687 kilometers at sea in 9 days as studies with satellite
transmitter have shown. The bear uses ice floes as stages in between.
The polar bear evolved during the Pleistocene from the grizzly. Both are still considered as one species,
according to the definition by Ernst Mayer: polar bear and grizzly can interbreed and produce fertile
offspring, known as pizzly's that were first viewed by a polar bear hunter. The polar bear adapted its
metabolism to arctic life and seal flesh. Nevertheless it remained an omnivore visiting garbage dumps and
so bringing about an increasing number of conflicts with human beings. The past year 60 bears were shot
in Canada in self-defense.
Trend polar bear positive since 1973
In Manitoba, Canada, a ban on hunting polar bears was imposed concerning the non-indigenous
population. After the International Agreement on Conservation of Polar Bears in 1973 hunting quota
came in force in Canada, Alaska, Norway, Greenland and Russia. This doubled the polar bear population
to 25,000 during 30 year. Two third of the population lives in Canada. Counting by the Canadian authority
showed an increase from 10,000 to 15,000 between 1996 and 2006. The population increase in many
regions such as Baffin Land and Northern Quebec 37 , was, according to the polar bear biologist Mchell
Taylor 38 , already confirmed by Inuit.
Zie ook Quammen, D. (2004) Monster of God, the man-eating predator in de jungles of history: poor cattle farmers in
developing nations most frequently encounter predators and are most vulnerable, (the Mink paradox of biology)
'The latest government survey of polar bears roaming the vast Arctic expanses of northern Quebec, Labrador and southern
Baffin Island show the population of polar bears has jumped to 2,100 animals from around 800 in the mid-1980s.'
38 Dr. Mitchell Taylor 2009 personal communication
The greater part of the global attention, in relation with global warming, is based on one polar bear
population, and its decline, around the Western Hudson Bay 39 . This subpopulation decreased by 22
percent 40 between 1980 and 2004. Warming ran up to 0.2°C/decade while the same rate of cooling
occurred at the Eastern Hudson Bay 41 . Overhunting at the Western Hudson Bay could also play a role
according to the Polar Bear Specialist Group.
Other assertions as to dying polar bears owing to warming, are based on the study by biologist Charles
Monnett. In Polar Biology he claimed an increase of drowning polar bears because of global warming.
These drowning bears acted afterwards in Al Gore's film. Monnett justifies his assertion on the basis of
extrapolations (beer mat computation) of 3 from a plane observed polar bears swimming or floating in the
Beaufort Sea. This researcher was subjected to governmental investigation into scientific fraud 42 .
Hunting tourism of polar bears profitable for Inuit
Inuit are allowed to hunt polar bears without 'bag limit' 43 . Under this law between 800 and 1 ,000 polar
bears are shot, of which 500 in Nunavut and the Northern Territories 44 . In Greenland 200 bears are shot.
Unofficially, the Russians shoot 200 bears. Tour operators offer commercial polar bear hunting trips in
the Northen Territories 45 . 21 percent of the Nunavut hunting allowable harvest is contracted out to
commercial trips for $ 20,000 per bear shot. In 2011 30 bears, of an allowable harvest of 400, were shot at
hunting tourism trips. In 2007 sport hunters shot 138 polar bears of an allowable harvest of 500. Two
third of the hunters came from Europe. In 201 1 the government of Nunavut tripled the hunting harvest
in the Western Hudson Bay to 21 for 2012 46 , a measure declared controversial by the Polar Bear Specialist
The Honourable Daniel Shewchuk, Minister of Environment, today announced that he has accepted the Nunavut Wildlife
Management Board (NWMB) decision to increase the Total Allowable Harvest (TAH) for polar bear in the Western
Hudson Bay subpopulation. "In Nunavut, we have seen remarkable recovery of our polar bear
populations since their historic lows in the 1970's, " said Minister Shewchuk. 'This is because our management
system is designed to respond and adapt to new information, and takes into account both scientific and Inuit traditional
No clear relation sea ice surface and 'health' polar bear population as claimed
WWF considers climate change as the outstanding thread of polar bears. According to WNF-manager
Johan van de Gronden 2 out of 3 polar bears could be extinct by 2050 47 , citing a US- government report
by Steve Amstrup. In 2005 WNF colleagues announced at the radio program Vroege Vogels (Early Birds)
that the polar bear could be extinct by 2025. WNF approaches children at the Jaap Eden skate court in
Amsterdam dressed in polar bear suits within the scope of donor engagement and awareness 48 .
Does WNF choose the right strategy for the protection of polar bears and does it mention the correct
cause of death? WNF never mentions the hundreds of polar bear shot by hunting. But it does put a
connection between mega wind farms in the North Sea and the protection of the polar bear. Thus, the
a. A linear relationship between the amount of sea ice and the number of polar bears, and a direct
relationship between the existence of sea ice and C02
b. Wind turbines are the best way to curtail C02-emissions
The relationship between sea ice and polar bears is far from being a simple one. Studies by Ian Stirling,
and others, in 1997 in Ecology of Arctic Environments demonstrate that severe winters, accompanied by
Stirling, I. (1999) Long-term Trends in the Population Ecology of Polar Bears in Western Hudson Bay in Relation to Climatic
Change arctic vol. 52, nr. 3 (September 1999) p. 294-306
40 Regehr, E. V., S. C. Amstrup, and I. Stirling.2006. Polar Bear Population Status in the Southern Beaufort Sea. U.S.
Department ofthe Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
41 Monnett C, Gleason JS (2006) Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the
Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Polar Biol 29:681-687.
42 http://www.nytimes.com/201 1/07/29/science/earth/29polar.html
44 Dyck, M (2012) Polar Bears in Nunavut: overview of research and management, Fur Institute of Canada 22 juni 2012
46 News Release Government Nunavut, 28/10/2012, 'Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear Quota Increased' The decision is very
heavily debated by the Polar Bear Specialist Group, who argue that Nunavut is already hunting too much
48 WNF polar bear beany action, http://www.p-p.nl/WNF_actie/
much pack ice in spring, leads to dramatic decrease of the number of female bears and their offspring. In
case the ice is thicker than 30 centimeters seals are unable to keep their breathing holes in the ice open, So
the seals move further away from the coast. After 4 months fasting by the polar bear in winter, the seals
are then too far away. The Inuit tell that the bears look for thin ice, not thick, as hunting grounds.
No emissions reduction by windenergy in ETS-system of Kyoto
In the frame of the emission trading system ensuing the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 - of which WWF is a
proponent- wind turbines do not cut back C02 emissions. A fixed cap, C02 level, determines the net
emissions 49 . C02 rights that are released at the construction of wind farms come at lower and lower prices
onto the market for 'polluters' immediately being purchased by power companies. These large numbers of
cheap emission rights make investing in coal and coal burning cheaper for (brown) coal power plants.
Moreover, the C02 cut back is estimated around 2ero percent because of the unstable wind energy
production which necessitates (fossil) back up power. 50
'Saving' the polar bear by Kyoto-style climate policy: 0,06 bear per year
However, suppose a linear relationship between sea ice and the quantity of C02 in the atmosphere.
Deducting from statistical calculation according to a Kyoto driven climate policy, 0.06 polar bears could
be saved annually. Assuming a linear relationship between C02 in the atmosphere, the area of sea ice and the presence of
polar bear 51 as well as assuming that through the Kyoto-protocol the global warming up until 2100
decreases by 7 percent. This while annually hundreds of bears die from hunting, 30 of which from
commercial hunting trips in Canada 52 . A 1 year allowed harvest of 500 bears in Nunavut in 2007 is then
compensated by 8,300 years climate policy to 'save' the bear, one season. One season of sporthunting in
2011 in Nunavut is compensated by 500 years of 'saving the polar bear' through Kyoto-style climate
So, here are two options for saving the polar bear, if one chooses to protect the growing polar bear
population with the limited staff and resources available for conservation.
Protect it through a one year hunting moratorium in Nunavut, thus saving 500 bears
Protect the bear with climate policy defined as building windmills/ imposing a world wide treaty
on global economy like the Kyoto Protocol, costing 1000's of billions of euro's, thus saving the
same amount of bears in 8300 years (if a new ice age has not started before)
WWF advocates the latter, and does not mention hunting tourism in any publication. Obviously, WWF-
campaigns do not serve the polar bear's conservation, and the advertised strategy can be deemed as
misleading. This observation is unrelated to the likelihood of several IPCC climate scenario's for this
century, and the advocacy for various forms of climate policy.
5 Causes of the modest ratio outcome/ spending
The WWF spends a fairly large amount on nature projects. The independent studies, though only a few
have been conducted, of the performance of WWF as well of her efficacy regarding preservation of
wildlife, all are critical. According to a study by biologist Paul Jepson the WWF would be remiss in its
duties with respect to the preservation of the Indian elephant. It also establishes that too little auditing of
results takes place 53 . Just about all WWF initiatives got the lowest score on long term performance.
Comparatively WWF was the largest donor as it set aside $ 1 million between 1999 and 2002 for the
protection of the Indian elephant while all other NGO's together set aside $ 1 million and the Indian
Christoph Bohringer & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2009. "Green Serves the Dirtiest: On the Interaction between Black and Green
Quotas," CESifo Working Paper Series 2837, CESifo Group Munich.- The 'green' policy of wind and solar that WWF wants,
distorts the C02 cap mechanism and leads to opposite results
50 Lukkes, P. (2012) Klimaatbeleid in Eurocrisistijd, biz 189, Uitgeverij U2PI BV
51 Lomborg, B. (2007) Cool it, zin en onzin in het debat over klimaatverandering, Spectrum 224 pp, biz 15: climate scientist Tom
Wigley presented this estimate on the Kyoto-effect on temperature
53 Jepson, P, Canney, S. (2003) The state of the wild Asian elephant conservation in 2003, an independent audit for the elefant
family, Conservation direct, 43 pp
government} 2 million. Projects last typically 1 to 3 years. In this chapter we take a closer look at the
causes of the limited success. 3 alternatives occur:
a. The organization doesn't receive sufficient money and protection of nature is hard to
b. The situation would have been even worse if WWF had been absent
c. WWF, as a fundraising organization, is focused on Western contributors and incapable of
achieving sustainable results. WWF is particularly focused on short term projects where
the result plays a secondary role. WWF considers a project successful once the budget has
Already in 1999 in Nature and in 2001 in Bioscience it was mentioned that more money would bring
about better results 5455 . The amount of $ 25 million/ year would be required which is more than half the
budget of US Aid. WNF itself adheres to alternatives a and b as Piet van Ierland, head marketing WNF,
stated in reply to critical reports 56 .
'The article mentions an Indian WNF representative sounding the alarm: "Help, the tiger is becoming extinct!" However,
this also happened to be the matter 30 years ago, informs the author. WNF shows its own incompetence for the opposite
applies. An increasing World population consumes the natural resources much faster than can be replenished. The richness of
animal species in the Tropics has decreased by 50% in the last 35 year. Had not the nature protecting organisations like
WNF made out a case for the preservation of the tiger, the Indian WNF-representative could have remained silent, since the
tiger would have been extinct for a long time'.
Argument b is often heard in defense of green NGO's but cannot be tested on it's credibility. In this
chapter we will probe other causes -like the one mentioned in c- that can explain the failure of WWF and
WNF that can be supported by data.
6,7 percent of WWF network's income is annually spent on African nature projects
WWF Network received € 525 million in 2006, WWF International € 53 million. This may seem a large
amount, the budget of Europe's developing aid however totals up to € 30 billion. So, the importance of
proper allocation of the limited conservation resources where biodiversity is most jeopardized, is evident.
Africa could be designated as example. WWF has been from way back the biggest NGO in Africa and the
longest period present. WWF is here twice as big as the second biggest party Conservation International.
Inquiring the spending on nature projects in Africa in 2006 reveals that WWF spent $ 32.2 million (€ 29.3
million) ex overhead 57 . This comes down to 6.7 percent of WWF Network's income of € 525 million, or
6% of WWF Network and WWF International summed.
The relatively small portion of the income that is allocated to "flagship species" like the Black Rhino could
also constitute an explanation of the minor success of WWF. The budget of WWF is distributed over
dozens or hundreds of short term projects such as MSC-thesis, biological research and new management
plans. As is mentioned in part 1 of "World Governance Fund" 58 , WNF in The Netherlands can
substantiate its claim that 81% of every euro is spend on nature protection, only by the application of a
broad definition of 'nature protection'. WNF also takes a fixed overhead of 20% on projects abroad into
No correlation spending and conservation hotspots
WNF asserts in its annual report that it fixes its attention on 18 priority areas. WWF had designated 40,2%
of all land on Earth as priority area. However:
a. For how long these areas remain priority area?
b. How much of the total income actually gets to those areas?
James, A. N., K. J. Gaston, and A. Balmford. 1999. Balancing the Earth's accounts. Nature 401 :323-324.
55 James, A. N., K. J. Gaston, and A. Balmford. 2001 . Can we afford to conserve biodiversity? Bioscience 51 :43-52.
56 Zeilmaker, R. 'Bescherm de Tijger, maar hoe?', Het Parool, March 14 2009
57 Scholfield, K. Brockington, D. (2009) Non Governmental Organisations and African Wildlife, a prelimanary analysis, BWPI
working paper p 20: the expenditure including overhead in Africa in 2006 of the WWF is 42.7 million dollar
58 Zeilmaker, R. (2012) 'The World Wide Government Fund, Organizational Profile, Finances, Influence and Economic Vision of
Wereld Natuur Fonds and the World Wide Fund for Nature, 15 p, report by the Groene Rekenkamer 2012
The answer to question a can be given by evaluating the annual reports of 2 successive years. Biologist
Benjamin Halpern stated in 2006 59 in the scientific maga2ine Biological Conservation that the limited
amount reserved for nature protection does not get to where it's needed. He compared spending by
NGOs reducible to ecological hotspots and the 'Global 200', the 200 priority areas defined by the WWF
(too). Even though WWF already since 1998 has applied a monitoring system, Halpern establishes:
Ironically, the three NGOs most active in priority setting (WWF, CI, and BI) could not provide data
documenting spending by country because, according to the finance offices of these
organizations, they currently have no way of tracking spending at the regional or national level. This
prevented us from directly comparing priorities and conservation effort for individual NGOs.
WWF spent money in 46 countries without priority areas, as opposed to 41 countries for Conservation
International en 29 for Birdlife International. Notice that, in the scope of this investigation, WWF hardly
any money invested particularly in the area of the (Amur)tiger Russia. Halpern established that half of the
funds of all investigated nature related to NGOs that could be reduced to its country of destination, 51
percent reaches . . .the USA
Other investigators confirmed in 2009 that NGOs are setting up more openness of their financial
bookkeeping. Yet Halpern states if required, that after his study WWF never entered into a discussion on
his results. 60 . Several studies more confirm the absence of a relation between scientifically established
priority' areas, achievements and spending of funds 61 . This not exclusively applies to WWF. Nonetheless
the WWF claims the use of 'the best science available', a claim that is thus not supported by the facts and
for which WWF can be held accountable.
Marketing and donor driven
Paul Jepson establishes as for the protection of the Indian elephant 62 that during his 3 year research not $
4 million but $ 60 million should be needed. Only then the protection could have some impact in the
longer run. This instead of the many small projects as a rule, after whose completion the NGO-
consultants step out. Yet WWF's strategy aims at setting up as many projects as possible, each with a very
modest budget as a rule. The WWF claims having started off 11,000 projects during its existence. In 2009
the Dutch WNF mentioned its involvement in 1,700 projects in 90 countries all over the world.
Such impressive numbers and around the globe presence bare a strong donor driving component. The
exact results of all these projects after a 1-3 year period are not verifiable. Verification in the field is
undividedly unfavorable. Marketing successfully appears to compensate failing efficacy. Everybody
believes/ wants to believe WWF is successful; those who critici2e are attacked. At the same time nature
protectors exert a kind of self censorship for 'the good cause'.
Hotte says about this:
"The public cannot verify whether WWF delivers quality 'products'. In order to create an image of quality
delivering WWF doesn't need real quality delivery. WWF often claims undeserved achievements because
this improves its reputation, while the public cannot find out the truth after all. This latter is also triggered
by the fact that other NGOs very seldom criticise WWF in public (for fear of the powerful PR-machine, scandals
harming everyone's reputation, etc)
This is confirmed in part 1 by the discussion on the complement of staffing of WWF: 67% is allocated to
marketing and finance. The awe of WWF's PR-machine became evident at a conversation with Paul
Jepson in 2009. His critical report brought him nothing but negative comments, even from colleagues-
and as he puts it: 'It is to no avail. People do have a preference for believing that WWF is good.'
Halpern, B.S., Pyke, C.R., Fox, H.E., Haney, J.C., Schlaepfer, M.A. and Zaradic, P. (2006). 'Gaps and mismatches between
global conservation priorities and spending'. Conservation Biology, 20, 56-64.
60 Dr Benjamin Halpern pers. comm. Mei 2012
61 Ferraro, P.J. and Pattanayak, S.K. (2006). 'Money for nothing? a call for empirical evaluation of biodiversity conservation
investments'. Plos Biology, 4, 482-488.
62 Jepson, P, Canney, S. (2003) The state of the wild Asian elephant conservation in 2003, an independent audit for the
elephant family, Conservation direct, 43 pp
Ecologist prof. dr. Herbert Prins of Wageningen University (Resource Ecology Group) 63 commented
likewise. Criticizing WWF would be fruidess. According to Prins it is more sensible to set the good
example yourself. This finding confirms that any reaction by WWF on the criticism of Halpern failed to
occur. Research journalist Kevin Dowling, too tasted that PR-power when WWF set up a crisis
communication team and spent £ 350,000 in order to erase any recollection of his work.
Recently, documentary-maker Wilfried Huisman of 'Der Pakt mit dem Panda' experiences the legal power
WWF exerts to protect her brand. WWF succeeded in blocking the documentary because of alleged
'falschichkeiten' which Huisman refutes on his website. Huisman was supposed to have mistakenly
mentioned that WWF is active in Argentina whereas there doesn't exist a WWF-office. However, there is
an active sister organization of WWF. Nevertheless, after a judgment in Cologne April 12 th the film is
allowed to be shown in public only when announcing it contains 'errors'.
Which nature protects WWF and for whom?
Another factor of failure that drives organizations like WWF to appealing exotic places is the one that
'international protection of nature' is not only connected with biodiversity but also with an international
life style that attracts Western donors 64 :
We must recognise that conservation activities sustain not just the wildlife and habitat with which conservation is concerned,
but people's relationships with them, and with other people, in thoroughly pleasurable ways. The lives of conservationists in
the field can be lived in remote places and close proximity to wildlife, surrounded by beauty, with little humdrum and routine.
A substantial element of the fundraising appeal of some organisations derives from the exotic appeal of these lifestyles, and
supporters' desires to participate vicariously in them. '
Nature conservation or development aid?
Poverty leads to destruction of nature, such as deforestation in Africa (62 percent for firewood), but at
that moment nature organizations enter the domain of development aid. It's hard for biologic-scientifically
trained protectors of nature to discover at conferences how human problems outstrip nature related goals;
themes of less interest to them than biology. John Terborgh put this on the World Parks Conference in
2003 in Durban as follows 65 :
'Countless workshops, lectures, and discussions delved into topics such as poverty alleviation, social injustice, indigenous
peoples' rights, community management of protected areas, and gender equity in conservation. All these issues have their place
in a global agenda but for me they dominated and drowned out the discussion of themes more directly related to conserving
nonhuman life on this planet'
At the Earth Summit in Rio June 2012, thanks to the G77 lobby of developing countries again poverty
combat dominates the agenda. It is since long well known that poverty triggers biological degradation.
Already after the 1 st Rio Earth Summit in 1992 researchers described for the World Bank how 'protected
area management' should be linked with development work in local communities. The expression
Integrated Conservation and Development Projects showed up 66 . In the 80's and 90's NGOs like WWF
adopted terms such as 'community based conservation', and 'people participation'. The success of a frequently
applied remedy -ecotourism- greatly depends on the amount of income it yields 67 . For NGOs it proved to
be a financial success. Thanks to this approach the number of government funds rose from almost zero to
1 7 percent nowadays of the budget of aid funds as Europe Aid and US Aid.
Internal investigation shows that social Development terminology remains the flag to push through 'one
lane traffic' 68 . As international experience shows, the basic strategy often remains developing management
plans on the base of biological data. Deliberation with stakeholders should especially promote the
Prof dr Herbert Prins, personal communication 2009
64 Scholfield, K. Brockington, D. (2009) Non Governmental Organisations and African Wildlife, a preliminary analysis, BWPI
65 Brockington, D. Igoe, J. (2009) Eviction for conservation, a global overview', biz 425
66 Wells, M. and K. Brandon. 1992. People and parks: Linking protected area management with local communities. The World
Bank, Washington, DC.
67 Christensen, J. (2004) 'Win Win illusions': about the failure of development aid (integrated conservation and development
practice) as a form of nature conservation point 5. ICDPs usually do not provide adequate incentives to discourage activities that
threaten protected areas. This does not mean that ICDPs won't work. But it does mean that the ability of ICDPs to generate
livelihoods for local residents will rarely be sufficient to assure the preservation of protected areas.
68 Jeanrenaud, S. (2002) People Orientated approaches in Global Conservation, Is the leopard changing its spots? NED 2002,
implementation of one's own plan. Whether management plans of NGOs are carried out is not the
NGO's responsibility. In Europe these plans end up in the desk drawer. The NGOs have started another
project elsewhere in Europe. This method is not limited to WWF.
In theory poverty combat may help an endangered species and its habitat, provided that population
growth slows down and education improves. In western countries such as The Netherlands, provided
there is sufficient welfare, funds are set aside for protection of nature, people get more leisure time for
natural study, and people support more nature legislation 69 .
Closing remark part 2
As for WWF a phenomenon shows up that is also applicable to the broader NGO sector. This
concerns the absence of a link between scientifically established priority areas, achievements and
spending, poor review of cost-effectiveness of its spending, and a limited effect on the goals of
international protection of nature. When donors wish a 'well feeling' as 'return on investment'
then they come to the right organization. WWF is champion marketing and fund raiser after all.
Published and translated by: Stichting de Groene Rekenkamer www. groenerekenkamer.nl 2012.
Text, cover picture and research:
Rypke Zeilmaker Nature/Sciencewriter: www.rypkezeilmaker.nl ©2012 5,i.^,f Hif
Zeilmaker, R.(2012) 'Westerse welvaart bevordert biodiversiteif. Het Parool 21-06-2012